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What’s Dry Sex?

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Today’s use of the term ‘dry sex’ refers to rubbing on the partner, also called ‘humping’ – a common sexual practice.

But, did you know that the term has historical roots in the sub-Saharan countries of Africa, where women dry up their vagina of secretions so as to enhance his pleasure? Ouch…

To quote a current article in the South African Journal of Science (read it by clicking here), “The practice of wiping, douching, or inserting substances into the vagina is reportedly common in sub-Saharan Africa.  Intercourse following such vaginal treatment is referred to as ‘dry sex.’  The most common reason offered by women for these practices include the enhancement of sexual experience through sensations of vaginal dryness, tightness or  warming; cleansing of the vagina before or after intercourse; treatment or prevention of STI;  restoration and tightening of the vagina after delivery; or the satisfaction of a partner.  Although the evidence in the literature is inconclusive, it has been suggested that ‘dry sex’ may increas the risk of HIV infection  among women through the sloughing of the vaginal wall during sex, or possible inflammation, ulceration or epithelial damage caused by the insertion of substances in the vagina.

A Medscape article, Understanding the Scourge of HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa , describes, “The main purpose of dry sex is to increase friction during intercourse, enhancing the male’s experience. These practices are destructive and costly in terms of women’s health. The destruction of the vagina’s natural flora facilitates the proliferation of other potentially harmful microorganisms. The lack of lubrication results in lacerations of the epithelial lining of the vagina, creating a portal for HIV entry. In addition, condoms break easily due to the increased friction, exposing woman to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In a study of 329 women ages 15-50 attending an STD clinic in Lusaka, Sandala found that 50% of the women had engaged in at least 1 dry sex practice, and about 58% of those women were HIV-positive. The most common methods of dry sex were drinking “porridge,” a suspension believed to cause drying of the vagina (28%); removing vaginal secretions with a cloth (22%); and placing caustic leaves in the vagina (11%).”

It was recently that we blogged about the need for women to protect their (vaginal/sexual) health – Why Suffer in Silence – and here we have another opportunity to reflect on the topic again.

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