Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Diapers for your period?

By Meluse Kapatamoyo

Most women, if not all, dread days when they have their period. Especially for those whose flow is always heavy. While others can simply afford to change their menstrual pads or tampon a couple of times a day, others have to rely on both to avoid staining their clothing or beddings. Unfortunately for others, even using both is not enough. To address this some women are opting to use baby diapers.

The revelation has shocked many followers of Pokeyourmind on Facebook who say the trend is simply disgusting and a health hazard.
"This sounds crazy. A diaper is designed for babies's urine and not blood. There could be health hazards that could come with the use of a diaper in place of a pad. I take it that these ladies stay with these diapers longer hours than they can with a pad, that's disgusting. I can't imagine the smell," said Eugenia Muuchili.

And Champo Muyembe said" Unless I was over 80 something and had 'bathroom' issues would I be seen using a diaper. Come on, for me, this is a NO NO NO."

"Why the heck would i wear a diaper on my periods? That's insane. If you have heavy flow like me,I wear a tampon and pad at the same time and the tampon alerts me when it's full and the blood never really goes on the pad but if you can't do tampons, you can still wear your overnight pads during the day," was another comment from Belina Nyanga Chanda based in the United States.

Picture courtesy of
Sally Chiwama added, 'I can't imagine any one wearing a diaper on their pees. I can see and have seen, have even bought diapers for older women but in a state of illness. Am also inclined to think it's an economical issue, I cant think of any other reason. I say so because I have seen women mostly muma komboni (I beg your pardon and no offence to anyone) buy diapers mumantemba like 3 at a time or so, rather than a whole packet. That its cheaper that way... I don't know. But again there are pads that cost as low as K6 in shops, so this is hard to understand and comprehend."

However, Zimbabwe's Ruby Maps, has a different opinion, " I know I would go for diapers if they came in my size. Considering how heavy my flow is and currently having to wear 4 pads at a time. By lining them up to cover the back, front and middle part of my panties. I use 2 packs a day thats US$2*5 and having a heavy flow doesn't help with my phobia I'm scared of spoiling so in the evening I take extra care by wearing two panties lined up."

Picture  courtesy of
Inonge Lubasi identified with Ruby.

"I used a diaper when I was travelling and not necessarily that they are economical but provide security of not staining. There is absolutely no health problem with diapers if they can go on a baby 's bum. How on earth will they be dangerous to an adult? The pad and the diaper are made from almost the same material if not exactly same except diapers are thicker than pads. Blood is a liquid and so most of it is absorbed in the diaper.

I was almost postponing my journey wen a friend adviced I use a diaper. From then I use a diaper 1st and 2nd day at least. A diaper can be won by a baby for 4 hours and even with pees it can go that long. You don't wear it like a baby or very sick person but you place it just like a pad making the smaller ones more comfortable. Diapers are also good to use after delivery especially for those who bleed a lot."

But for others like Francesca Phiri Banda, the issue may not be that straight forward.

"For me it's what works for someone as long as it doesn't pose a threat to their health.Those opting for diapers are better off because some people even in the capital city of Zambia use cloths on their menses because they can't afford pads. And let's not forget the issue of counterfeit pads which were exposed some time last year, some people may feel safer to use diapers."

So, would you trade in your pads for a diaper? PYM


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Erectile dysfuction : Are you affected?

By Meluse Kapatamoyo

Erectile dysfunction, a condition which affects men, is the "failure to sustain an erection that can deliver sufficient stimulation or deposit correctly semen to the opposite sex is dysfunction of erection." 
As Pokeyourmind, after receiving queries through the Facebook page, i followed up with a gynaecologist.
Dr Mwanahamuntu: The condition is a result of either psychological failure, fear, emotional disconnectivity in matters of sex but it can also be a result of many diseases that affect nerve and blood supply such as diabetes, high blood pressure, painful lesions of the penis to name a few.

Pokeyourmind: What symptoms should men look out for?

Dr Mwanahamuntu:  Symptoms include failed initiation of sex or even completion of penetrative sex without use of a prosthesis penis (a  device designed to make a part of the body work better). The penis will simply be limp or too soft to penetrate the receptacle vagina.

Pokeyourmind:  How common is this condition?

Dr Mwanahamuntu: The exact stastics can not be precise as all sexual conditions normal are but a third of suffered of diabetes, high blood pressure and mentally stressed people plus alcoholics will have this condition once in a while or always.

Pokeyourmind: What type of treatment is available?
Dr Mwanahamuntu: Mostly treating the cause is a sure solution. Other treatments have involved use of medications that have selective actions on blood vessels expansionism. Sometimes surgery that link lower abdominal blood vessels directly to the main blood supply of the penis have been used. Desperate measures of using false penis also save situations and interpersonal affection.

Pokeyourmind: Can the use of sex boosters’ contribute to erectile dysfunction?

Dr Mwanahamuntu: They don’t but should be used with consultation of physicians. Remember, size of penis is not critical as the nerves that a penis targets in the vagina are just 2 to 3 centimeters deep. It is is futile to enlarge a penis and remain the lazy man.
Pokeyourmind: What are some of the side-effects of using sex boosters such as the popular Mutototo?

Dr Mwanahamuntu: Mutototo has no researched dose and side effects. It's production is not regulated and am not sure whether it kills or helps people.

Pokeyourmind: Is there an age when it’s appropriate to use sex boosters?

Dr Mwanahamuntu: What limits the use of these drugs is the overall performance of other organs summoned to jointly participate in sex. For example the heart. There is no point to have a penis performing stronger than ones heart as this is a death trap.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Thank you U.S Mission to the UN Geneva

By Meluse Kapatamoyo

Had a wonderful time relieving memories of my trip to the United States and Switzerland when i was hosted last week at the U.S Embassy in Zambia .The meeting with people from PEPFAR, USAID Zambia and the U.S Department of State, put me back in focus as each question took me back to the high profile
people i met, the things i learnt and what i planed to do with that knowledge.

Being nominated for the 2015 Internet Freedom Fellowship (IFF) program with colleagues from four different countries, Belarus, Pakistan, Kenya and Brunei was such an honour.

The two week trip to Switzerland, Geneva and eventually the cities of
Washington DC and California in the United States, funded by the
U.S. Mission Geneva , opened a whole new world for me. I was amazed at how both countries are using technology and the internet to advance women’s rights. Even more impressive was that theleading organisations and institutions we visited were headed by women. I was in awe of their confidence.My biggest lesson from the many meetings we had and my interaction with the other fellows is that despite challenges, despite the negativity, continue to push with your mission in life.

The trip has renewed my resolve to make this blog
  & the Facebook page , an interactive space where more people can engage and debate on sexual reproductive health matters without fear or intimidation. I intend to use the skills, confidence and knowledge I obtained during the fellowship to champion the cause of Women and Health through my blog. Once again, thank you to the U.S Mission to the UN-Geneva. PYM

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Menstruation : keeping girls away from school in Zambia

By Meluse Kapatamoyo

Today the world commemorates Menstrual Hygiene Day. Launching the day on ZNBC television last evening under the theme 'Act together to support Menstrual Hygiene in Schools' Education minister, Michael Kaingu said hundreds of girls in Zambia miss classes monthly, while some stop school altogether once they start to menstruate.

What measures should be put in place to ensure that girls are made to feel more comfortable and stay in school when they are menstruating? PYM menstruation 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

My fibroids surgery experience

A conversation with a friend who recently underwent an operation to remove fibroids brought back memories of my own surgery a few years ago. Prior to the operation, I had tried my best to encourage her to remain positive, remembering my own fears when I was first diagnosed. Fibroids are abnormal growths that develop in or on a woman’s uterus. The growths are typically benign (non-cancerous).
Although I only had the operation in 2008, the diagnosis was made in 2006 after I noticed a small growth protruding near my pelvic area. At the time, apart from the occasional pain, it did not give me problems. But that did not prevent me from going into research mode. I was shocked to learn that fibroids are a common condition among women all over the world.  Not only do they come in different types, they are in different shapes and sizes too. What’s worse is that there is very little that women can do to prevent fibroids.

When I went for consultation, the doctors at Zambia’s University Teaching Hospital (UTH) located in the capital Lusaka, were assuring too, telling me it was a common condition among women of child bearing age, but more importantly that successful operations to remove fibroids were conducted regularly at the institution.

But even with such assurance, I was still fearful of many things. Not being able to wake up from the anaesthetic or my wound not healing properly, so, I made the decision not to have the operation.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take too long for the symptoms to start showing. My once flat stomach started to bulge and with it came rumours that I was pregnant. In addition to that I started to experience shortness of breath, simple activities that required me to bend over like painting toe nails or sweeping the floor. But even with that discomfort, I was determined not to have the operation.

But in late 2006, tragedy struck. My father died suddenly. I was in so much emotional pain that for the first time in my life, the thought of death did not scare me. Four months later, my sister died, not too long after I decided to have the surgery. I wish I could say the decision was thought out but I made it out of pain, hoping I would not wake up from that operation.

The D-day was January 31, 2007. As I slept in my hospital bed the night before the operation, I allowed my wonder. The doctors had diagnosed me with Pedunculated fibroids.
These are fibroids which are attached by a stalk to the uterus. The fibroids had also entered my uterus, the doctorssaid they would have to remove my uterus too. Unmarried and without a child, I asked myself how I would feel afterwards. But being the last born in a family of 11, I have many nieces and nephews, so my comfort was that I would be surrounded by many children regardless.

I had not slept much when the nurse came in to check my temperature and my blood pressure. Thinking I had researchedenough on the surgical procedure I was to have, i was shocked and felt violated when the nurse said she needed to insert a catheter (a tube tied to a bag which collects urine), as I would not be able to go to the bathroom on my own for several days. I tried to protest but according to the nurse, it was all mandatory for anyone undergoing such an operation. I gave in. Unfortunately, while I waited to be wheeled into the theatre one of the nurses noticed that the catheter was leaking, so it had to be removed and then inserted again, this time, by a male nurse.
I was so frustrated going into surgery. The last thing I remember before the anaesthetic took effect was protesting about the largenumber of people in the room.  Being a teaching hospital, when such operations are conducted, student doctors are usually present to observe. And while it’s understandable, I found it rather intimidating and an invasion of my privacy but I was knocked out before I could continue complaining.

I woke up several hours later, mouth dry, drifting in and out of sleep but was not allowed to eat or drink anything that day. It was only until the next day that I began to feel the pain of the operation. In-fact my entirebody hurt, if not from the operation located just above my pubic hairline, it was the cannula on my right hand where I was receiving a dose of injections. My left hand hurt too, which had a drip to replace fluids in my body because I was vomiting, so did my buttocks where I was being given another set of injections.

Perhaps the worst day was when I collapsed in the bathroom after the nurse’s insistence that I get out of bed to exercise my wound. Unfortunately, I was still weak. I don’t remember how long I was out for but I experienced a profound moment. For the first time, since my father’s death, there he was standing before me clear as day light. I was on the floor reaching out to him to help me get up but he kept pushing my hand away. 
I continued with my attempts to stand up until he aggressively pushed my hand away shouting ‘shala’ which in my local language Kaonde means stay.  When I came to, the nurses were fussing over me. My sisters and cousin who were at my bed side were in tears. It is the only time I ever dreamed about my father.

I spent five days in hospital. The wound healed quickly, the most pain I experienced was the time I had to clean it. I had to be helped to bath too, at least during the first week after I was discharged from hospital.I was also unable to walk straight for two weeks, afraid that I would rapture the operation. Something the doctors assured me would not happen.A month later, I was completely back on my feet, with only occasional pain on the wound whenever I exposed myself to the cold.

Years down the line, the scar is almost non-existent (will thank my dark skin) but seriously I believe it was mostly the expertise of the doctors. I have heard stories of people that say they have never completely healed and complain of constant back aches, headaches and pain in their pelvic area. I thank God I do not experience any of that.

Would I recommend that a person with fibroids has them removed? My answer would be yes, but of course doctors will advice when and if that should happen. There are many health risk factors especially for women within child bearing age. Sometimes fibroids can cause infertility, miscarriages and as was in my case, increased blood flow during menstrual periods. Fortunately for women who are menopausal, it is possible to live with them as fibroids feed on oestrogen which is high in women of child bearing age but is low in those who nearing menopause.
Overall, when faced with the decision whether to have an operation or not, i hope you choose the right method of treatment that is appropriate for you. And by the way, incase you are wondering, i still have my uterus. PYM


Monday, February 2, 2015

Yeast Infection : What you should know

By Meluse Kapatamoyo
I would like to welcome you all to the new year. Apologies that it has taken me a little longer than usual to get down to responding to your queries. It could not be helped. I had to let our consulting doctors enjoy the festive holiday.

So, our first query for the year 2015 is on Yeast Infection. I spoke to Dr Mulindi Mwanahamuntu, a consultant Gynaecologist at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH).

Pokeyourmind :  What is Yeast Infection and how common is this condition among women?

Dr Mulindi Mwanahamuntu
Dr Mulindi Mwanahamuntu : Yeast infection is a result of over growth of a fungus Candida Albicans, which is normally found in small amounts in the vagina. There are reasons why it can grow out of control e.g.
(a) Change in the acidity of the vagina caused by washing the vagina, outing detergents, powders and chemicals in the vagina, long term use of antibiotics which destroy necessary acid forming vaginal bacteria, douching, or even herbs or wearing tight or wet underwear.

(b) change in the sugar levels as in diabetes

(c) change in hormone profiles particularly in late stages of pregnancy when estrogens and progesterones increase including external sourced cortisones found in skin toning medicines normally used by many women to look brown

(d) change in the immunity status whether by untreated HIV or by taking drugs that lower immunity.

Pokeyourmind : Can it be sexually transmitted?

Dr Mulindi Mwanahamuntu : It can be transmitted by oral sex or penetrative sex although men don't usually have prolonged genital yeast.  Oral sex transmission is because the mouth can have yeast, a condition called thrush or candidiasis.

Pokeyourmind : What type of treatment is recommended?

Dr Mulindi Mwanahamuntu : Symptoms such as excessive discharge, itching or burning/itching urination signify yeast infection. It is important to see a doctor since the root cause must be detected. Some treatments that require insertion medications are not good in state of pregnancy. All these cautions need a doctor to verify. Many people treat themselves wrongly with antibiotics or metronidazole making the situation worse.

Pokeyourmind : Can women continue to be sexually active while receiving treatment?

Dr Mulindi Mwanahamuntu : It is advisable to stop sex during treatment until treatment ends.

Pokeyourmind : What preventive measures should women take to avoid getting the infection?

Dr Mulindi Mwanahamuntu : Prevention measures include not wearing tight or wet clothing, removing swimming clothes immediately and anal wiping direction from front to back. It is equally important to AVOID washing the vagina using detergents, powders and chemicals. Avoid long term use of antibiotics which destroy necessary acid forming vaginal bacteria, douching, or even herbs.
Pokeyourmind : Are there any special foods that women should be eating to avoid infection?
Dr Mulindi Mwanahamuntu : Diet is not emphasized, but a good intake of yogurt after a course of antibiotics or general poor health is encouraged as this may restore normal levels of a bacteria called lactobacillus, through a "desirable" anal vaginal cross contamination. PYM 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Chipata compound to have 1000 tested for HIV

By Meluse Kapatamoyo

As the world gears up to commemorate World AIDS Day, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation Zambia (AHF) is targeting to test 1000 people at its commemorative event.

Under the theme, ‘Zambia at 50 towards zero stigma’, the commemoration will take place at the Chipata compound grounds on Saturday, November 29.

Photo / ITUC-CSI
AHF Zambia Country Programme Manager, Victoria Kalota said in addition to testing 1000 people, the event will also create awareness around HIV/AIDS stigma.

“Our target is to link 80 percent of all who test HIV positive to health centres for care and treatment. As we test and sensitise, we will also distribute condoms and refer all negative men for male circumcision, she said.
Joining the day’s event will be several AHF Zambia partners who will offer services such as circumcision, cancer screening, and general health related services.

The commemoration will start with a march past led by the Zambia army band and majorettes to the Chipata grounds. At the grounds the support group will sensitise people through drama performances, songs, dances and a football competition.

AHF global is also on a mission to extend access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) to 20 million people by year 2020. The  20x20 campaign will be highlighted by asking citizens to add their red ribbon of support to a pin board on Saturday.

The campaign challenges the current shortfall of treatment as currently only 12 million out of the estimated 35 million people living with HIV worldwide are on treatment. PYM



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I got circumcised to give my partner sexual pleasure

By Meluse Kapatamoyo
Health experts say Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision can reduce contraction of HIV by 60 percent. But despite the benefits, most men still shy away from the cut citing various reasons, among them pain during and after the operation. However, the belief that circumcision reduces sensitivity during sex, is responsible for much of the resistance.

So a challenge came through from one of my readers asking me to find a man who would be willing to speak candidly about circumcision. It took me a while to find someone who was ready to speak on the issue without 'hiding' under the name of anonymous. But one person was willing to share his story after reading my notice.

Here is my short interview with Innocent Matyola, aged 41, who got circumcised in 2009.

Pokeyourmind: What or who motivated you to undergo circumcision

Innocent Matyola
Innocent: It is something i had thought about for a long time. i decided get circumcised  firstly 
for personal hygiene, as well as giving my wife pleasurable love making.

Pokeyourmind : Pleasurable love making...does circumcision guarantee that, how?
Innocent : It does. It gives you endurance and confidence.  You do not get to experience premature ejaculation.

Pokeyourmind: Okay, but what about talk that it reduces sensitivity. Any truth in that statement?

Innocent : To some extent yes. But that also has a benefit in that reduced sensitivity guarantees your partner to have the much required orgasm. Too much sensitivity has always led to premature ejaculation.

Pokeyourmind : So, low sensitivity does not worry you?
Innocent : It always makes me feel I should as well work to satisfy my wife. As you may know and I should attest to the fact that men have always had to ejaculate even when their women counterparts were left unsatisfied. So it doesn't bother me at all.

Pokeyourmind : Okay. I guess she appreciates the sacrifice. Now tell me, did you have any fears or concerns prior to the operation?
Innocent : As a matter of fact I almost all the time wished I should have gotten circumcised. I had a habit of pulling my foreskin most of the time so I appreciated the idea before the operation. So for me it was something i looked forward to. Besides its a small operation which healed in two weeks but a few days after i was able to get round and do my normal errands.

Pokeyourmind : You hail from the Southern part of Zambia where circumcision is not commonly practiced. Do you openly talk about it and do you encourage men from your area to get circumcised?
Innocent : I openly talk about being circumcised and why i did it and the benefits and am proud to say, that a number of people i have shared my story with have gone ahead to get circumcised despite coming from Southern Province where this is not a common practice as is the trend i areas like North-Western Province.

Pokeyourmind : Do you have sons and if so are they circumcised?

Innocent : I do have sons  but they are yet to get circumcised but i intend to have them circumcised. PYM








    Tuesday, September 9, 2014

    Nominate your 2014 PEPFAR Champion

    By Meluse Kapatamoyo
    The Presidents Emergency Planfor AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Champions contest is back!

    Focus of the contest this year will be on people who have gone the extra mile to promote equal access to quality HIV services for all Zambians.

    "Information and interventions for HIV prevention and risk reduction remain unavailable for some marginalized groups in Zambia, such as persons with disabilities, sex workers, and prisoners.
    We could like to honor Champions who support PEPFAR’s public health approach by striving to reach the thousands of Zambians who are not able to access HIV services, “ says PEPFAR Development Outreach and Communications Specialist, Kathryn Koonce.

    Last year, 12 champions were crowned at the inaugural PEPFAR Champions Award Ceremony held at the luxurious Radisson Blu Hotel. 
    Among the recipients were; Colonel Daka, a Commanding Officer at Zambia National Service Camp in Kitwe. He is one of the first military officers to openly discuss his HIV status and currently  promotes counselling and testing among his troops.

    Sister Mariola Mierzejewska, sister-in-charge of Kasisi Children's Home. She and her staff are currently providing care and support to 250 orphans and vulnerable children, 60 of whom are living with HIV.
    His Royal Highness Chief Eshiloni Mumena from North-Western province, a powerful advocate of Voluntary MaleMedical Circumcision (VMMC).  In 2011 and at age 47, he underwent circumcision. Since his procedure, he now actively promotes the practice through out Zambia and in other Southern African countries.

    Renowned doctor, Mannasseh Phiri, one of Zambia's leading and outspoken HIV andAIDS activists. Apart from being a columnist and hosting  a radio show which tackles the complexities surrounding the disease, he addresses issues head on related to homosexuality, sex workers and gender based violence.
    Each champion was featured in a PEPFAR Zambia 2014 Calendar in addition to receiving a $1, 000 to donate to a local organization or community group of their choice.

    This year, to nominate your PEPFAR Zambia Champion, submit a written explanation of how the nominee is working towards equal and universal access to HIV services by email to or by mail to PEPFAR Coordination Office, RE: PEPFAR Hero Award, American Embassy, Ibex Hill, P.O. Box 31617, Lusaka, Zambia.

    Include specific information about how your champion is promoting equal access to quality HIV services for all Zambians including their work, success, and relevant background information. Please also include 2-3 high quality photos that demonstrate the impact they are making.

    The deadline is September 19, 2014.

    Champions will receive a cash prize for the community-based organization of their choice, will be featured in a PEPFAR Champions 2015 calendar, and will be honored at an event in Lusaka around World AIDS Day, December 1, 2014. PYM