‘Sex Will Make Your Fingers Grow Thin and Then You Die': The Interplay of Culture, Myths, and Taboos on African Immigrant Mothers' Perception of Reproductive Health Education with Their Daughters Aged 10–14 Years

Monday, 9 November 2015

Kafuli Agbemenu, PhD, MPH, MSN, RN
School of Nursing, State University of New York, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA


The purpose of this presentation is to examine the convergence of culture, myth, and taboo about reproductive health issues to which African immigrant women, who currently reside in the United States, were exposed while growing up in their countries of origin. We also sought to understand if their perceptions influenced the reproductive health education (RHE) they provide to their daughters aged 10–14 years.


Twenty African immigrant mothers in the United States were interviewed about the myths and taboos on pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections they heard growing up in their various African countries of origin. Qualitative content analysis was used to collect and examine data.


Mothers reported myths and taboos that related to menstruation, sexual intercourse, pregnancy, and HIV/AIDS.


Although several myths and taboos were reported, they did not appear to influence the RHE that mothers provided their daughters. Differences in U.S. culture vis-a-vis their countries of origin compelled most mothers to provide more education than they would have in Africa.