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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Women's Health 1/2015

Intravaginal practices and lactobacilli colonization among women in Accra, Ghana

BMC Women's Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Francisca Nana-Aba McCarthy, Nicholas Israel Nii-Trebi, Billal Obeng Musah, Richard Harry Asmah
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​s12905-015-0205-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Francisca Nana-Aba McCarthy and Nicholas Israel Nii-Trebi contributed equally to this work.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests

Authors’ contributions

FN-AM contributed to the study design, questionnaire design, data collection and analysis, manuscript preparation. NIN-T conceived the study, participated in the study and questionnaire design, data analysis and contributed to the preparation and finalization of the manuscript. BOM contributed to data analysis and interpretation as well as manuscript preparation and its finalization. RHA contributed to the preparation and finalization of the manuscript. All authors confirm that this manuscript has not been previously published and is not being considered for publication in any other journal. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Intravaginal practices may affect the colonization of vaginal flora and lead to vaginal infections due to the potential effects on the vaginal environment. This study investigated the vaginal practices and their possible effects on vaginal lactobacilli flora colonization in women in Accra.


A cross-sectional, descriptive single-site study was carried out on 141 women assessing medical care at the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) in Accra. Study-relevant information on participants was obtained by means of questionnaire. Vaginal swab samples were collected and processed for laboratory analyses.


All the participants (141/141, 100.0 %) indicated they performed intravaginal practices using various methods. Almost half (46.1 %) of these women were between the ages of 25–34 years and 65.0 % were married. Internal douching (82.3 %; p > 0.05) was the commonest practice reported. Other practices such as insertion and wiping with hands and objects, as well as use of locally prepared concoctions and certain commercial products were also reported. The reason most commonly given was for hygienic purpose (83.0 %); a few (10.6 %) did it for sexual satisfaction, while others indicated vaginal tightness (5.7 %) and wound healing (0.7 %) as reasons for their practice. No Lactobacillus sp. was detected in as many as 78.7 % of the sample. Association tests by the Pearson correlation analysis showed strong significant negative correlation (r = −0.954, p < 0.05) between use of traditional herbs/concoction and vaginal lactobacilli colonization; and douching being the least negatively (r = −0.601, p > 0.05) correlated practice.


Vaginal practices were common among the women studied. A more elaborate prospective, case–control study into intravaginal practices and their impact on the health of women in Ghana should be explored.
Additional file 1: Study Questionnaire.
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