By Mark Nichter; Mimi Nichter

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Just as blood cannot escape a closed uterus, semen cannot enter it, so there is no possibility of conception during the greater part of the cycle. [Hence one can understand their incredulity at our assertion that conception is most likely to occur about midway between menses]. Conception could occur during menstruation but 10 ANTHROPOLOGY AND INTERNATIONAL HEALTH ideas that menstrual flow is contaminating lead them to avoid intercourse at this time. However the uterus remains open for a few days after menstruation, and this is the time when, in Rapan eyes, conception occurs.

Direct questions focusing on fertility evoked the responses noted earlier, but there was little information as to why these times of the month were considered fertile. Informants commonly stated that this was what others had told them or what they had heard. At this point, we engaged a select group of key informants in metaphorical interviews. One of the most effective referential frameworks that was utilized evoked the image of the womb as like a flower. This image was suggested by our senior co-interviewer, a retired rural development research officer, who was also a popular local poet.

Hence one can understand their incredulity at our assertion that conception is most likely to occur about midway between menses]. Conception could occur during menstruation but 10 ANTHROPOLOGY AND INTERNATIONAL HEALTH ideas that menstrual flow is contaminating lead them to avoid intercourse at this time. However the uterus remains open for a few days after menstruation, and this is the time when, in Rapan eyes, conception occurs. (Hansen 1975:53) We will see shortly that Rapan ideas about conception are not far removed from lay ideas expressed by some Sri Lankans.

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