141st APHA Annual Meeting

In This section

Sexual exploration and negotiation as a byproduct of hymen-protection in Lebanon

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 2:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Faysal El Kak, MD, MS , Health Promotion and Community Health Department, Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon
Lilian Ghandour, PhD, MPH , Epidemiology and Population Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon
Rola Yasmine, RN, MS , Epidemiology and Population Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon
Background: Patriarchal systems govern women's sexualities and bodily autonomy by valuing virginity and associating honor to intact hymens. Methods: A cross-sectional online survey on sexual behaviors, attitudes, and perceptions conducted in a private university from Lebanon. Results: Half the study participants (N=1,838) state being sexually active. A third of those sexually active stated engaging in anal and/or oral sex particularly to avoid hymen-breaking. While 60% eventually did engage in vaginal sex, an increased likelihood of doing so was being in a relationship (OR: 1.5, p=0.013, 95%CI= 1.09-2.17). Conversely, exclusively engaging in anal/oral sex to hymen-preserve was 4.4 times (p=0.001, 95%CI=1.86-10.5) more common among non-Lebanese Arab men than Lebanese. Adjusting for nationality, age, sex, and relationship status, religious faith showed a 3 fold (p=<0.0001, 95%CI=1.7-5.2) increase in solely engaging in non-vaginal sex as compared to the non religious and those unconcerned with hymen integrity. Additionally adjusting for religiosity, women who eventually engaged in sex vaginally were 2.6 times likely (p=0.002, 95%CI=1.43-4.58) to feel they'd engaged in activity they hadn't wish for, yet 70% less likely (p=<0.0001, 95%CI=0.18-0.59) to sense their relationships are fast paced sexually. Regardless of gender, guilt of having sexual impulses was associated with hymen-protection. Conclusions: Women initially refusing hymen-breaking signifies a larger decision-making capacity than commonly perceived. Although engaging in more than they wish, women state comfort with the sexual pace within their relationships. The increasing prevalence of hymenoplasties in Lebanon may explain why more women venture into sexual exploration in their relationships.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Compare demographic variables of those who had once safeguarded their hymens, concurrently safeguarding and to those indifferent Explain the cultural context of unconventional approaches to women gaining bodily autonomy within patriarchal structures Discuss the physical, fiscal, and emotional costs of hymen breaking in the light of hymenoplasties and GBV

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an Obstetrician- Gynecologist, public health practitioner and a reproductive sexual health professional involved in clinical and academic work. I hold a Senior Lecturer position at the Faculty of Health Sciences at the American University of Beirut. Currently the President of the Lebanese Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology, i have consulted and advised at national, regional and various international agencies and organizations including UNFPA and WHO.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.