by Lillian Pao (’18)
Religion and spiritual beliefs may influence pregnant and postpartum women’s sexuality. Professor Sagrario Gomez Cantarino, from the University of Castilla la Mancha in Toledo, Spain, and his team of researchers wanted to understand a woman’s perspective on this issue as a result of her interactions with others as well as influential cultural and historical ideals. To further learn about women’s thoughts, the team analyzed the influence of religion on Spanish pregnant and postpartum women in an urban and rural area. They designed an ethnographic research design, which included a participant observation and an in-depth interview. These techniques helped the researchers understand a woman’s opinion and religious or spiritual point of view about her sexual life and experiences.
From these interviews, researchers determined that women were hesitant to discuss sexual issues due to the existing prejudice in the area where they lived. Most of the women in the study from the rural areas had to hide their relationships and feelings because their society was strongly influenced by religious issues. Specifically, Catholicism ideals were deeply rooted in their society and most women did not explore their sexuality because they were taught to remain pure and righteous.
Spanish women were stuck in a position to only reproduce for marriage and family purposes, and were culturally subordinate to males. However, there is still hope for change within the rural population of Spanish women concerning their sex roles. Health care professionals, such as doctors and midwives, may play a crucial role in educating pregnant and postpartum women the truth about their restrictive religious sexual beliefs.
- G. Cantarino, et al., The importance of religiosity/ spirituality in the sexuality of pregnant and postpartum women. Plos One (2016). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0156809.
- Image acquired from http://www.lifenews.com/2015/01/23/christian-man-to-pregnant-girlfriend-convert-to-my-religion-or-have-an-abortion/