The psychosocial impact of vesico-vaginal fistula in Niger
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To explore the psycho-social impact of vesico-vaginal fistula (VVF) on women in Niger.
We conducted a qualitative study on 21 women in convalescence at the DIMOL Reproductive Health Center in Niamey, Niger, in 2008 and 2009. The women had undergone 1–3 fistula repair operations and all had stillborn infants.
Women reported many psychological consequences of VVF including depression, feelings of shame, and loneliness. Others reported feeling devalued as a woman and wanting to end their lives. Social consequences of fistula reported by these women included rejection from society, isolation, rejection from husband and/or divorce. Almost half of the women reported of having lost their social network and support as a result of the fistula. Women with VVF were deemed unworthy, and their illness was often attributed to some fault of their own.
Our findings support the notion that socio-economic factors, though they certainly contribute to obstetric fistula, are not the primary reason for fistula, particularly in Niger. Fistula is a direct result of lack of access to skilled birth attendants and emergency obstetric care.
KeywordsVesico-vaginal fistula Niger Psycho-social consequences of fistula Obstetric fistula
We are immensely grateful to the staff of DIMOL for their tremendous contribution and to all the women of the Center for sharing their stories and making this study possible.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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