Monday, June 17, 2024

009MJ University of The Gambia Medical Students Association

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Health myths/benefits

The use of Tobacco mixed products known locally as “tabaa” is a common practice across The Gambia, Senegal and Guinea Bissau. It is used by women who insert it into their vaginas for increased sexual pleasure, it is also applied to wounds to relieve pain and aches.

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The product is sold underground without regulation and has raised concern among healthcare workers for its effects on health and well-being. In 2017, France24 investigated the practice, interviewing two Senegalese women.

The report states: “The powder seems to provoke a wide range of reactions — while some users report that this drug makes them feel pleasantly drunk or provides relief from pain, others say it causes dizziness, vomiting, diarrhoea and skin irritations. While neither of the women interviewed said that they felt sexual pleasure after putting the “tobacco” in their vaginas, that seems to be the case for other users.

“After about 15 minutes, sexual desire takes over the woman’s body and she feels an immense sensation of pleasure as if she were straddling a man,” states an article about the mysterious powder published in the Senegalese newspaper, Le Populaire.

A Senegalese gynaecologist was interviewed and stated: “I first heard about this powder when I examined a woman from Guinea-Bissau in October 2015. Since then, I’ve had many other patients admit to me that they use it. All of these women had urinary or vaginal infections. Some even had sores on their vulvas because the powder is toxic and causes itching and irritation.

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That said, not all users experience dizziness and diarrhoea. But whatever the side effects, all users are putting their lives in danger. They are increasing the risk of developing cervical cancer.

What worries me is that, even when I explain the risks to them, most of these women keep using it.”

[Editor’s note: numerous people contacted by the FRANCE 24 Observers said the powder was addictive and that some women had trouble experiencing sexual pleasure without it.]

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