Living with Vesico-Vaginal Fistula at Jimma University Medical Centre: A Phenomenological Study

Yasmin Mohammed Ali


Obstetric fistula leaves women with few opportunities to earn a living and worsens their poverty. The death of the baby, inabil­ity to carry a child, and the stigma that accompanies fistula results in significant emotional & psychosocial damage. Vesico-vaginal fistula (VVF) is a medical condition that involves an abnormal opening between the bladder and the vagina, leading to uncontrolled leakage of urine which is resulted mostly from an unattended prolonged labor. Semi-structured in-depth interview was used to explore the lived in experience of eight women with obstetric fistula who were admitted in Jimma University Medical Center selected by purposive sampling technique. The data were analyzed using thematic analysis. Seven themes illustrating the lived in experiences of women with Vesico-vaginal fistula were emerged. These were awareness of altered identity, depression, anxiety, marital problems, disrupted social life, economic problems and coping strategy. Problem focused coping strategies mentioned were having family support, orientating to reality, financial independence and religiousness. Emotion focused coping strategies were also noted, such as, isolation, suicidal thoughts and anger.  Altered psychological, physical, social and economic functioning were some of the disruption in the life of women with VVF observed. Promoting their positive coping strategies, providing physical and psychological support is crucial to reverse debilitating effects of women with VVF.


VVF, Lived experience, psychosocial & economic problems, Jimma University Medical Center

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