, Vol 6, No 1 (2012)

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Gabriel Igberase


Background: Harmful cultural practices affecting reproductive health abound in Nigeria especially in the Niger Delta region.


Method: A review of the literature using internet search engines such as PUBMED, AJOL, GOOGLE was undertaken.


Results: A wide range of harmful cultural practices affecting reproductive health were found and were reviewed. They include female circumcision, abdominal massage, widowhood rite, fire and heat treatment, patronage of traditional birth attendants, early forced marriages, permission from men before obtaining medical treatment, insertion of toxic herbs and preference for the male child. The various reasons for their practice, implications to reproductive health of women and ways of reduction and eradication are discussed.


Conclusion: Harmful cultural practices affecting pregnant women and reproductive life is often deep rooted in culture and tradition of the people. Therefore continuous health education and behavioural modification of the people is required. Changing the  people's perception of their beliefs and myth may be fundamental in breaking theses harmful cultural chain. There is also a place for legislation by the government with appropriate and enabling laws put in place to check these harmful practices. Governments should openly condemn all forms of violence against women. The girl child and women in our society need to be empowered financially and educationally as an empowered woman would know her rights. Women should also form self help groups with the sole aim to combat this scourge.


KEYWORDS: Harmful cultural practices, Reproductive failure, Maternal mortality, Perinatal mortality,  Niger Delta, Nigeria.

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