Assessment of body concepts and beliefs regarding reproductive physiology.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Instruments for depicting the way rural women experience and perceive their bodies were administered in an anthropological study in Central Mexico. Body outlines were filled in or finished by the women and concepts of reproductive physiology were shown during the drawing process which showed various degrees of knowledge or accuracy. The organs most frequently drawn were the stomach, intestines, heart, liver, uterus, and lungs. Ribs were the only bones spontaneously included. The external structures most often drawn were breasts, vagina, and umbilicus. All structures were represented as circles of varying sizes except for the intestines, which were lines, and the heart, which was a valentine. Accurate placement of internal organs was unusual. When the names used for the bodily parts were elicited, the breast had 5 different terms. Multiple names were also given to the stomach, uterus, and vagina. The heart is believed to the origin of feeling and emotion and has religious as well as physical meaning. It was often thought that from 2-10 coital incidents were needed to become pregnant since it was believed that the blood of man must mix with the blood of the woman. In this type of survey it is important that the women can identify with the basic body outline; in pretesting certain figures were rejected.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-397
Number of pages5
JournalStudies in Family Planning
Issue number11-12
StatePublished - Nov 1 1979


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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