"Is there any effective cure for my senile vaginitis?" 74-year-old Wu Xianghua boldly asked the young male doctor.
Wu, a villager from Boyang County in east China's Jiangxi province, did not attract any special attention when she sought advice from a public information desk during a campaign launched by the local family planning commission to promote reproductive health.
"Because of some bad habits and a lack of hygiene knowledge, many rural women, including quite a few old ladies, have reproductive health problems," said a local woman.
The program not only provided farmers with free contraceptives but also a rare chance to seek advice for their reproductive health problems.
"Just tell your trouble to the doctors, it's nothing shameful," said Wu Shunying, a local woman.
Women in rural China used to keep their reproductive health problems as "private secrets" and seldom went to doctors.
Now rural women can get reproductive health checks regularly in local family planning service centers, said a Miss Xiong from the Jiangxi provincial family planning commission.
Thanks to guidance from experts and more open discussions on reproductive health care, many women had changed their attitudes towards sex, she added.
In all the 12 districts and counties of Shangrao City in Jiangxi, hospitals offer preferential care to rural women, which includes free infrared treatment and a 50-percent discount on service charges. Some 3,800 women have taken advantage of the offer in the past few months alone.
Nearly 60 percent of women living in China's poor rural areas suffer from genital infections, double the number in cities, statistics show. The Chinese government has made every effort to popularize knowledge on women's reproductive health, contraception and baby care since its adoption of a family planning policy about 20 years ago.
(Xinhua News Agency August 28, 2002)