There is a certain amount of stigma and misunderstanding that can come with attempting to discuss cancer, especially those of the gynaecological sort. In fact, it seems a lot of us struggle to discuss or ‘lady parts’ in general. According to a study by Ovarian Cancer Action “women aged 18 to 24 are four times less likely than those aged 55-64 to go to a doctor with a sexual health issue.” Furthermore, a total of 66% of young partakers in the study said they were embarrassed to say the word vagina. Comparatively, 11% over the age of 65 were just as timid.
If your wondering what this has to do with cancer then remember that illnesses like ovarian cancer are much easier to treat if diagnosed early. If women aren’t comfortable discussing then the more difficult it is for any gynaecological issue to be discovered, examined and treated.
Visiting a health care professional and getting informed on gynaecological cancers, and gynaecological health more generally, is an important aspect to maintaining health. Remember, your doctor has probably heard it all before anyway.
Stigma breeds silence, which fuels fear and further misunderstandings. In many ways, unless we consciously attempt to discuss these issues, the lack of conversation will eventually only exacerbate the problem. Breaking this vicious circle makes life easier for people with cancer. (Once you have cancer it is not a death sentence or a matter of fate – treatment to improve survival chances and standards of living is something your health care professional can help you with). Additionally, it can also change public attitudes towards early detection and prevention.
With all that in mind, why are we so embarrassed? After all its nothing to be ashamed of and the silence is harming our health.
Repeat after me: Vagina.