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TravelGhana: Sex, Religion & Women’s Health

Health Lifestyl

Photo Reporting: TravelGhana: Sex, Religion & Women’s HealthTravelGhana: Sex, Religion & Women’s Health

…What Finance & Economic Minister Seth Terkper failed to consider in his 2013 Budget Statement: The Ghanaian Youthful Population lives in fear, trauma and uncertainties- Let’s blame the Republic


The correlation of the woman with the stand-out-breasts in a Kaba dress in a church, and the fast-naked and probably, unreligious woman with a waist-tight Bikini at Mallorca Beach- featured boldly on the cover-page of a highly subscribed German Tabloid Newspaper- the Bild, as against that of the seemingly sexually overpowering attractive Ghanaian woman, whose medical fragilities are being openly exposed in church halls instead of medical centres as those who ought to have matter, seemed to have ignored their plight is my worry to interrogate the state of the sex drive of the Ghanaian man. Thus after months of research holidays in Ghana, I think this critical but sacred observation on the topic, worth sharing.

It is true- traditionally; our homes and indeed churches appear mute over open discussion or debate over sex. Yet today, our airwaves- especially, TV stations and FM radio stations, are uncontrollably, littered with sex-drive medicines and jingles whose medicinal efficacy, are yet to be established. Death rates within the youthful population remain high and shocking. It is unclear whether these overhyped sex-busters; trumpeted by some radio presenters and self-acclaimed traditional medical practitioners and their assigns or agents, are linked to this. Medically, it is advised that patients, on sex medication such as the Viagra or the likes, ought to check, periodically, their kidney responses and the state of their blood.

Religiously, I saw some pastors performing publicly, on TV screens, spiritual medical operation on women said to have been saddled with fibroid for decades. Hmm, Jesus healed the woman with decades of blood ailments through her tip-touch on the garment of the Messiah and the swift and reactive response of the Holy Spirit that went out from the Saviour Jesus. In Ghana today, some Men of God; indiscriminately, and without regard to privacy or self-worth of the married or unmarried woman, fondle, push and strike their desperate and innocent victims- mostly women and youth girls, all in the name of spiritual deliverance from ancestral curses of demoniac aspersions from families and relatives.

The most dangerous and indeed worrying trends in Ghanaian societies are that well-known diseases or health disorders such as sexual impotence, bareness, diabetes, high blood pressure or even inability to pass job interviews or crucial examinations or assessments, are attributed to the devil- who more often than not, could be our moms, dads, grandpas or grandmas, spouse, close relatives or pals. Whereas some pastors conjure missing contact telephone numbers for their “clients”, others demonstrate their powers to overcome common ailments among women such as vaginal discharge- known otherwise, as “White”.

Professionally; I am not an authority in dealing with this topic but with the support of JusticeGhana Health & Fitness Research Team, I can report that it is normal and healthy to produce a clear or White discharge from your vagina and this mucus, in the words of NHS UK, is produced naturally from the neck of the womb, known as the cervix. Although this is not the focus of this article, the report states that the amount of vaginal discharge (“white”) varies throughout the [woman’s] menstrual cycle (brown discharge is usually the end of your period) and most pregnant women will get a ‘pregnancy discharge’.

“Healthy discharge does not have a strong smell or colour. You may feel an uncomfortable wetness, but you should not have any itching or soreness around your vagina… You should be aware of how your discharge naturally varies throughout your cycle and what is not normal, but obvious warning signs of infection are: a change in colour or consistency; a sudden bad smell, an unusually large amount of discharge; another symptom alongside the discharge, such as itching outside your vagina or pain in your pelvis or tummy; and unexpected bleeding from the vagina. If you are not sure whether your discharge is normal and[you] are worried about it, see your GP or nurse. There are many possible causes of abnormal vaginal discharge, but it is usually a sign of infection. The infection is often caused by something that upsets the natural balance of bacteria or yeast in your vagina, such as washing inside the vagina, or it may be sexually transmitted” (www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vaginal-discharge/Pages/Introduction.aspx).

According to the NHS UK report, the most common causes of vagina discharge (“white) are: thrush - a fungal infection that commonly affects the vagina; bacterial vaginosis - a bacterial infection of the vagina; trichomoniasis - a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a tiny parasite; gonorrhoea or chlamydia - STIs caused by bacteria and not least genital herpes - an STI caused by the herpes simplex virus. That if the woman’s discharge is thin and watery or thick and white (like cottage cheese), she may have thrush. “This common fungal infection causes intense itchiness and soreness around your vagina. The discharge may smell slightly yeasty, but does not have a strong smell. Almost all women get thrush from time to time and it is not sexually transmitted. It is easily treated with antifungal medicine, which can be bought over the counter from your pharmacist.” What of white or grey fishy-smelling discharge?

“If your vaginal discharge is grey or develops a strong fishy smell, particularly after sexual intercourse, you could have bacterial vaginosis (BV). BV is an imbalance in the normal bacteria found in your vagina. It does not usually cause itching or irritation…If your vaginal discharge is abnormal and you have pain in your pelvis or when you urinate, or you bleed between periods or after sex, you may have chlamydia or gonorrhoea (both STIs). Gonorrhoea can make your discharge turn green, although often the pain or bleeding are more noticeable.” According to the NHS report, it is unusual for young girls to have abnormal vaginal discharge before they have gone through puberty. “If this happens, they should see a GP. There may be a lost object inside their vagina, such as a tampon. Abnormal discharge is also unusual in older women. If you have gone through the menopause and suddenly notice an abnormal vaginal discharge, see your doctor as soon as possible to rule out cervical cancer or endometrial cancer.”

Fibroid is also one of the Ghanaian woman’s ailments, attracting a huge attention of our “Men of God” and traditional soothsayers. On one occasion; I overhead a pastor instructing one of his “patients” to get back to one of the probably, specifically-designed theatres/wards on the healing grounds, to finger herself and to attest to the congregation whether or not the fibroid had been removed. As expected; the said delivered “Obaa Simaa” surfaced with a shout: “Pastor, Pastor, I’m healed’, I’m healed.” And with excitement and electrified response from the huge open-congregation; showers of praises, much of it falling on the “man of God” rather than the Saviour Jesus Christ, whom they seemed to be exalting, did jump with the waving of handkerchiefs, Holy Bibles and mobile phones. While some fell on their fronts and backs, others rolled with wails and lamentations to glorify God. All is well and good! But how scientifically profitable could it be if every medical condition were to be given spiritual interpretations?

According to medicalnewstoday.com (2009); Fibroids affect at least 20% of all women (aged between 30 and 50) at sometime during their life and that overweight and obese women, are at significantly higher risk of developing fibroids, compared to women of normal weight. “Fibroids are non-cancerous (benign) tumors that grow from the muscle layers of the uterus (womb). They are also known as uterine fibroids, myomas, or fibromyomas. The singular of uterine fibroids is Uterine Fibroma. Fibroids are growths of smooth muscle and fibrous tissue. Fibroids can vary in size, from that of a bean to as large as a melon. Malignant (cancerous) growths on the smooth muscles inside the womb can develop, called leiomyosarcoma of the womb...” It is said and here I mention in passing that most women have no symptoms which is why most patients with fibroids do not know they have them and when symptoms do develop, they may include: Anemia (as a result of heavy periods); Backache; Constipation; Discomfort in the lower abdomen (especially if fibroids are large), frequent urination; heavy painful periods; pain in the legs; painful sex; labor problems and welling in the lower abdomen (where the fibroids are large).

It is found that other symptoms may include: repeated miscarriages; pregnancy and fertility problems. So why not be wary about the pastoral meddling; the medical muteness and the productive hours being spent at prayer camps or “concussions of anointed waters” and the Ghanaian Woman’s cold attitude towards the Gynecologist? “We are not exactly sure why fibroids occur. During a woman's reproductive years her estrogen and progesterone levels are high. When estrogen levels are high, especially during pregnancy, fibroids tend to swell. When estrogen levels are low fibroids may shrink, e.g. during a woman's menopause,” writes medicalnewstoday.com. That women whose mothers and/or sisters have/had fibroids have a higher risk of developing them too… the symptoms of fibroids are rarely felt and the patient does not know she has them. They are usually discovered during a vaginal examination.

But in today’s Ghana, the effective religious activities of most pastors and church members seem to outstrip that of the presidency, parliament or the judiciary who arguably, seem to have huge workloads. Churches and prayer camps have become like the Biblical journey to the Promise Land- Canaan. But unfortunately, unlike on the wilderness where manna; uncontrollably and without ceasing, did freely fall from the heavens for the freed grumbling Israeli travelers, each face-to-face “fibroid or white” consultation or anointed or holy water prescription irrespective of one’s situation, comes with a cash price. Whereas technological advancement is improving the lives of millions of the world populations through enhanced health delivery and medicare, law, politics, travel, education and training, the Ghanaian media are preoccupied with not only sex enhancement but also vagina loosen and contraction.

What, then, are vagina loosen and contraction? Under the heading- “Dismiss the Myths: Vaginal Tightness and Looseness”, Ashleigh Atwell (January 30, 2013) writes that a woman’s sex partner can affect her vaginal elasticity, but multiple partners cannot make a woman’s vagina become permanently loose. Michael Castleman of Psychology Today is quoted as saying that vaginal tissue is very elastic and that the vaginal does expand and contract for sex, but it does not remain expanded. Another supporting observation is that the number of sexual partners a woman has doesn’t permanently alter the elasticity of the vagina. “After relaxing during sex, vaginal muscle tissue naturally contracts-tightens-again. Intercourse does not permanently stretch the vagina,” Castleman said. “This process, loosening during arousal and tightening afterward, happens no matter how often the woman has sex,” Castleman adds.

Photo Reporting: TravelGhana: Sex, Religion & Women’s HealthMany Ghanaian women appear to be so worried about this health condition that they are prepared without question, to insert anything into their vagina either to achieve contraction or expansion. According to Castleman, the only occurrence that can permanently alter a woman’s vaginal elasticity is childbirth but even after a birth, a woman can regain her permanent elasticity, especially mothers in their late teens and early twenties. And that women that have multiple births are the most likely to experience vaginal looseness and women of advanced age might experience a loss of elasticity. “If you stretch elastic a great deal, over time, it fatigues and no longer snaps back entirely,” he illustrates. “That can happen to the vaginas of young women after multiple births. Their vaginal muscles fatigue and no longer fully contract. In addition, aging fatigues vaginal muscle. Whether or not women have given birth, as they grow older, they may complain of looseness,” he says. It is said that although a woman can’t do much to loosen her vagina, there are some things she can do to tighten her vaginal muscles.

These are obviously, not the many parading orthodox or traditional medicine on the Ghanaian market that are yet to receive their laboratory accreditation for safe human use. Atwell (ibid) writes that Kegel exercises are a great way for women to work on their vaginal elasticity. “According to the Mayo Clinic (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/kegel-exercises/WO00119), if a woman is having issues identifying which muscles should try to stop their urination midstream while they’re on the toilet. “Once you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles, empty your bladder and lie on your back. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for five seconds, and then relax for five seconds... “Try it four or five times in a row. Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions. With caveat see http://www.inhuemag.com/2013/01/30/dismiss-myths-vaginal-tightness-and looseness/#sthash.1kaGpnKX.dpuf, for further information and self-experiment.

But for example, commenting on “Unorthodox Techniques for the Diagnosis and Treatment of allergy, Asthma and Immune Disorders”, it was said that “When considering testing and treatment, advice needs to be “evidence based”. In other words, there needs to be evidence that a particular test or treatment is reliable, based on studies of other patients with the same condition. Reliable tests need to be able to distinguish between those with illness and those without. Therapeutic trials are designed to show that any improvement seen is due to the treatment, and not just due to chance or coincidence. Such studies also examine whether a particular treatment may also cause harm as well as benefit. So-called “levels of evidence” have been developed to rate the quality of published evidence, with Level I being the highest quality of evidence, and level IV being of lesser quality. The aim rationale that doctors are able to more readily select a treatment for their patient… For example, Level I evidence of a test being unreliable represents high quality evidence. When NO published evidence exists, this is listed as “No evidence” (www.allergy.org.au/health-professionals/papers/unorthodox-techniques-for-diagnosis-and-treatment).

In Ghana, this reliability- being it spiritual or traditional Diagnosis and Treatment, appears puzzling. In a “Press Release: Warning over dangerous Traditional Chinese Medicines”, Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), for example, warned people not to use a number of unlicensed Traditional Chinese Medicines (TCMs) after they were found to contain dangerously high levels of lead, mercury and arsenic. For example, Bak Foong Pills, which is used for the treatment of menstrual pain, not forgetting TCM, Hairegenerator, used for the treatment of hair loss, which was recalled in Hong Kong after a sample was found to contain 11 times the permitted level of mercury (www.mhra.gov.uk). We’ve also learnt that vaginal discharge and fibroids are scientifically, curable. It’s also a myth that promiscuity causes a woman’s vagina to become loose. The reality is: A woman’s sex partner can affect her vaginal elasticity, but multiple partners cannot make a woman’s vagina become permanently loose.

Yet there are such insertions on the market. But Psychology Today’s Castleman states, vaginal tissue is very elastic and does expand and contract for sex, but it does not remain expanded and that the number of sexual partners a woman has doesn’t permanently alter the elasticity of the vagina. So in writing this article, I seek not to undermine the divine powers of God [and of course the soothsayer with charms] but to prompt the media and medical fraternity both within and outside the church to intensify this health awareness so as to redeem our vulnerable women from the seemingly networks of conmen who charge consultation fees; sell anointed waters and amulets but report no returns to the State for social programs.




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