If you had asked me several years ago to talk openly about my female reproductive system then I would probably have blushed profusely and clammed up. However, since being diagnosed with womb cancer and having my female bits seen by more people than I care to think about, I’ve certainly become a lot more open to talking about gynaecological issues.
I’m not a prude by any stretch of the imagination but talking openly about these issues just wasn’t really something I felt I needed to talk about in general day to day life. I had suffered with severe heavy bleeding for many, many years but it never crossed my mind to talk about it with anyone, other than occasionally my husband. It wasn’t even something I discussed with my Mom.
For reasons I won’t go into now, I put up with excessive heavy bleeding for around 35 years until I eventually ended up in hospital, severely anaemic and needing several blood transfusions. I soon discovered that once the NHS has you in its grasp it’s hard to escape!!
Appointments with a gynaecologist followed and that’s when the dignity went out of the window. From then on, it was a case of calling a spade a spade, or rather a womb a womb!!
One thing I have come to realise over recent years is the lack of knowledge that the vast majority of people have about their own bodies, specifically their reproductive organs – and that includes men as well as women. Sex education in schools has been lacking for many years – infact I don’t think we had that much of it either and I went to school in the 70’s.
The use of silly euphemisms for our sexual organs is something that is a real bug bear of mine. Is it any wonder that young women (and men for that matter) don’t know where a vagina is on an anatomical diagram when most people use silly terms like lady garden or pussy! Also the fact that many seem to confuse the vulva with the vagina – if you can’t even get that bit right then you really need to buy yourself a medical textbook and do some homework.
If women can’t talk openly and use the correct terminology then how on earth are they going to know if anything is going wrong with their reproductive and sexual health? Knowing the facts is the first step to empowering yourself and being in control of your own body.
From menstruation to UTI’s and pregnancy to STD’s– women and young girls need to know the facts and understand what is happening with their gynaecological health.
Be empowered. Know your normal – and make sure you know your vagina from your vulva.
Bit about me.
50-something womb cancer survivor who runs Womb Cancer Support UK, a national not for profit cancer support & awareness organisation. Lives on a small island off the west coast of Scotland and is passionate about raising awareness, not only of womb cancer but all gynaecological health issues and empowering women so they can get the help and support they need and deserve.