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Bull World Health Organ. 2003; 81(9): 639–645.
Published online Nov 14, 2003.
PMCID: PMC2572547

Prevalence of reproductive tract infections, genital prolapse, and obesity in a rural community in Lebanon.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence of reproduction-related illnesses in a rural community in Lebanon. METHODS: Data were collected through interviews with women in their homes, physical examinations and history taking by physicians in a clinic in the community, and laboratory tests. A total of 557 ever-married women aged 15-60 years were selected randomly. FINDINGS: Just over half of the sample (268, 50.6%) had five or more children, and (320, 78.9%) of women aged < 45 years were using contraception. The prevalence of reproductive tract infections was very low: six (1.2%) women had sexually transmitted diseases and 47 (9.3%) had endogenous reproductive tract infections. None had chlamydial infection or a positive serological finding of syphilis. None had invasive cervical cancer, and only one had cervical dysplasia. In contrast, genital prolapse and gynaecological morbidity were elevated. Half of the women studied (251, 49.6%) had genital prolapse, and 153 (30.2%) were obese. CONCLUSION: The prevalence of reproductive tract infections in this conservative rural community in east Lebanon was low. Possible explanations include the conservative nature of the community, the high rate of utilization of health care services, and the liberal use of antibiotics without a prescription. More importantly, the study showed an unexpectedly high prevalence of genital prolapse and obesity--a finding that has clear implications for primary health care priorities in such rural communities.

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