Vaginal discharge and women's sexual health : a qualitative study in Karachi, Pakistan

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MScN)


School of Nursing and Midwifery, Pakistan


Sexual health is an integral part of human health. It is attained by positive growth and development, positive relationships, healthy behavior, and the absence of violence and coercion. Sexual health is affected by biological, psychological, socio-economic, cultural, ethical, and religious/spiritual factors. In South Asian region, Vaginal Discharge (VD) is known to be the most prevalent gynaecological morbidities affecting the women's overall health. This study aimed to explore the women's sexual health concerns affected by VD. The study adopted a qualitative exploratory design. By using a predetermined inclusion criterion, a purposive sample of a total of 12 women was selected from three Family Welfare Centres (FWCs) located in three districts of Karachi, Pakistan. The data was collected through a semi-structured interview and was analyzed by using the analytical framework of Miles and Huberman(1994). On the basis of the reported characteristics of VD, the total sample of the participants was divided into two groups: Normal Vaginal Discharge (NVD) and Abnormal Vaginal Discharge (AVD). The content analysis discovered five themes containing several categories and subcategories: Experiences, Myths and Misconceptions, Management, Challenges, and Expectations. Major differences were detected in the physical, psychological and sexual experiences of the women in the two groups. The participants in the AVD group were found to have experienced more physical, psychological, and sexual difficulties compared to the women in the NVD group. These included pain in the legs and waist, lack of energy, itching and burning, intense psychological discomposure, spiritual distress, dissatisfying sexual relationship, fear of transmitting infection, and violence. These difficulties seemed to be perpetuated by several myths and misconceptions held by the participants in both the groups. The women in the two groups used similar strategies to manage their VD and encountered almost the same challenges and expectations in seeking healthcare for their complaint of VD. The findings provides grounds to suspect association of VD with women's sexual health and mental health which if altered might put them at risk of enduring violence.The study findings generate recommendations for practice, education, policy, and research to use effective strategies for addressing the associative factors of VD in order to improve the women's sexual health and overall wellbeing.

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