Women's health is a broad term that encompasses various aspects of physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Although the female body is an incredibly complex and sophisticated system, many women shy away from discussing their health concerns due to social stigmas, cultural taboos, and personal discomfort.
Not tonly can this lead to complications in your bodily relationship with yourself, but it can lead to a lack of awareness and delayed diagnosis of underlying health issues. Let's delve into some of the most taboo topics in women's health that need to be discussed and bring them to the forefront of the conversation.
Menstruation is a natural process that occurs in most women from puberty until menopause. But it's often shrouded in secrecy and stigma, making it difficult for women to discuss any problems they may have related to their menstrual cycle. Painful periods, irregular periods, heavy bleeding, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) are all common issues that can significantly impact a woman's quality of life. Did you know that experiencing cripplying pain while on your period is not normal? You should not be experiencing pain while menstruating besides very minimal soreness. Excessive bleeding can further cause issues like iron deficiency (anemia), lightheadedness, and even shortened cycles. Women should be encouraged to seek medical advice for these concerns, as they could be indicative of underlying health issues such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or hormonal imbalances.
Disorders such as PMDD, endometriosis, amenorrhea, and dysmenorrhea are often misunderstood or misdiagnosed due to a lack of awareness and understanding. PMDD, for example, is a severe form of PMS that can cause emotional and physical symptoms, but is often dismissed as "just PMS." PMS has a large span of symptoms from tender breasts to feeling sad, but PMDD can cause you to feel undeniable sadness and even lose the desire to live. And yes, for the average woman on a 28-31 day cycle, that means monthly. Endometriosis is a painful condition where the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of it, but is often misdiagnosed or undiagnosed due to lack of knowledge and understanding.
It is important to talk openly and candidly about menstruation and menstrual health to break down the stigma these topics. Women should be encouraged to seek medical advice for any concerns they may have, and healthcare providers should be educated on the signs and symptoms of menstrual disorders. By promoting education and awareness around menstrual health, we can help women feel more comfortable and in control of their bodies, and ensure that they receive the care and support they need to maintain optimal health and well-being.
Sexual and reproductive health is an essential aspect of overall health and well-being, but many women find it difficult to discuss any concerns with healthcare providers, sometimes even partners. Forget discussing, did you know a lot of women actually prefer not to say the word vagina and anything related to it? Dr. Jen Gunter, New York Times columnist an author of The Vagina Bible: The Vulva And the Vagina — Separating The Myth From The Medicine says that these terms are treated like bad words, a taboo, which causes major issues for women. When you're not taught to say certain words and everything regarding them is hush hush in your upbringing, it can etch the idea in your brain that it's shameful and should be avoided in conversation. How is it that women are expected to understand menstruation (and handle it), get pregnant, bear + birth a baby, but not be taught about the organs that support all of this, thoroughly? She further adds that even in clinic, behind closed doros and in confidential conversations, women can hardly describe what's going on with their reproductive organs. The biggest danger surrounding this discomfort is that due to not being able to comfortable discuss any health concerns with medical professionals can cause a loss of opportunity in being diagnoses, completely wrong disgnoses, mistreatment, and lead to women gaining an idea of what's going on from a non-credible source.
Piggy backing off this idea of discomfort with the speaking of a vagina is the idea of sexual health which includes topics of painful intercourse, decreased libido, and difficulty achieving orgasm. These are all common issues that can have a significant impact on a woman's quality of life. Sex should not be painful to you and the underlying reason isn't always dryness (*hint: lube isn't the answer here)! STIs, infections, and even menopause can cause pain. In addition, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can be a cause for concern, as they can lead to long-term health problems if left untreated. You aren't taught the full extent of the after-effects of a sexually transmitted disease in sex-ed in elementary school. Long term effects include, but aren't limited to, discomfort in your vagina, pelvic inflammation, ectopic pregnancies, and even infertility. Not only should women should be encouraged to seek medical advice for these concerns, as early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent long-term complications, but be made comfortable to talk about all of this candidly. Too often than not, women actually are made to feel shameful about anything having to do with down under, but it's quite literally our biological makeup.
* Remember ladies: start your annual pap smears at age 21. Any abnormalities need to be given attention.
As women, we know our bodies better than anyone else, which is why it's important for us to advocate for ourselves and speak up when it comes to our health and well-being. Unfortunately, many women have experienced situations where their voices were not heard or their concerns were dismissed by healthcare providers. The biggest example is during childbirth where many women report feeling ignored or belittled during the birthing process, with healthcare providers not listening to their wishes or desires regarding after-birth care for their baby. Women should feel empowered to speak up and advocate for themselves during this vulnerable time, as they know what is best for themselves and their baby.
If something is persisting and a previous treatment isn't helping, don't let someone talk you into it again. In the same way, if something feels off and you have instincts kick in, speak up! It may be uncomfortable and you may even get weird looks but saying no or "im not comfortable with this" can make a huge difference in your health. At the end of the day, we are the experts on our own bodies. We know when something doesn't feel right, and we should feel confident in speaking up and advocating for ourselves. Whether it's during childbirth, in the doctor's office, or in our daily lives, our voices matter and should be heard. By advocating for ourselves, we can ensure that we receive the care and support we need to maintain optimal health and well-being.
Birth control is a powerful tool for women to take control of their reproductive health and make choices about their bodies and their lives. However, it's important to understand the potential effects that birth control can have on women's health, and to explore alternative options.
Hormonal birth control, such as the pill or the patch, can have side effects such as weight gain, headaches, and changes in mood. It can also increase the risk of blood clots and certain types of cancer. While these risks are relatively low, it's important for women to discuss their individual health histories and concerns with their healthcare provider to determine the best course of action.
There are also non-hormonal options for birth control, such as condoms or copper intrauterine devices (IUDs). These methods do not have the same hormonal side effects and can be just as effective in preventing pregnancy, but you can experience some serious differences in your menstruation to the point of amenorrhoea. It's important to discuss birth control in depth and introduce the idea of it, early on, to women so that they can make informed choices about their reproductive health. Many women are not given enough information about their options, and may not even be aware of the potential side effects of hormonal birth control.
Breast pain, lumps, and discharge are all common issues that can significantly impact women and most times, they don't know what to do with themselves if they experience these. Women should be encouraged to seek medical advice for these concerns as early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent long-term complications. A majority of breast cancer is detected in its later stages due to women being afraid or too ignorant to prioritize this aspect of health.
Women's health is overall a broad and complex field that encompasses various aspects of physical, mental, and emotional well-being. However, social stigmas, cultural taboos, and personal discomfort can often make it difficult for women to discuss their health concerns openly. By breaking down these barriers and encouraging women to seek medical advice for any concerns they may have, we can help prevent long-term complications and ensure that women receive the care they need to maintain optimal health and well-being.
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