Use of sexual pleasure-enhancing substances among hair salon female workers in Durban: a qualitative inquiry.
The use of sexual pleasure-enhancing substances (SPES) is fast-gaining traction among sexually active, young Black females globally. The researcher’s interest is on the implications of this practice on safe sex. The use of pleasure-enhancing substances and vaginal practices, particularly intra-vaginal cleansing and the drying or tightening of the vagina is driven by beliefs that may ensure sexual pleasure as every woman’s prerogative. Thus, women risk acquiring sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. The belief that SPES are only efficacious without using the barrier method elevates women’s risk of acquiring HIV. This study aims to explore the use of SPES among female hair salon workers in Durban to foster an understanding of how this practice impacts on safe sex practices and sexual reproductive health. The study used qualitative interviews to elicit the views of 12 selected young Black African women (BAW) working in hair salons in Durban’s central business district (CBD) regarding the use of SPES and various vaginal practices. Purposive and the snowball sampling techniques were used to identify information-rich participants. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. The findings indicate that SPES affect safe sex practices and place women’s sexual reproductive health at risk. Most young BAW were not practising safe sex with their partners. The practice of unsafe sex among this cohort was driven by the need to sexually satisfy male partners, thus maintaining the much-needed grip in love relationships. The findings also indicate that BAW are conversant with sexual and reproductive health issues.
Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.