By ZOE LAWRENCE
I once had a medical issue that was so embarrassing that I avoided going to the doctor for three months.
Even when I finally did get to the doctor, I was nearly too embarrassed to tell her what was going on. It was a problem, um – “down there” – so it wasn’t exactly a topic I was willing to speak freely about.
But when I finally did spit out the problem, my doctor was so, so nice about it. And she told me that I’m really not the only one who’s ever had trouble telling her about such problems.
Women seem to be genetically engineered to be embarrassed about their bodies.
Anything that’s even slightly awkward – a rash, a pain in a weird location, strange discharge – is something we’ll rarely mention to anyone but our closest friend.
What’s even more concerning is that we’ll often rush to Dr Google to look up our symptoms, rather than actually going to a real doctor to divulge all relevant information. And that’s a dangerous – and, frankly, really silly – habit.
Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Allergan. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.
Here are the health issues that we all tend to ignore, but really shouldn’t – even if they might be embarrassing, they really need to be checked out and evaluated further.
1. An overactive bladder.
Believe it or not, there are more than three million Australians who have an overactive bladder – but they often don’t say ANYTHING about it because they’re embarrassed or think the issue is uncommon.
In reality though, many Australian women aged between 20 and 60 suffer from this condition. It can affect people of all ages and life stages and is different from other bladder issues, like stress incontinence – where you leak when you cough or sneeze, which can be caused by ageing or pregnancy and childbirth.
Symptoms include involuntary leakage and a need to pee all the time. Are you ALWAYS looking for the toilet and sometimes not making it in time? Do you have a fear of standing in long queues at the shops in case nature calls? If you’re going more than eight times per day, there may be something up…
I know it’s awkward – after all, bladder issues are not exactly the most fun topic of conversation – but there are ways to help and if you’re living with this problem, you don’t have to be. Really.
The solution could be as simple as booking an appointment with your GP and asking for a referral to see a urologist or urogynaecologist.
2. Bloating, gas and constipation.
There are a lot of women out there who have really sensitive stomachs – as a result, they regularly go through a lot of discomfort and pain, and avoid certain foods just because they’re worried about the repercussions.
There are very few things in this world that are more awkward than talking about poo problems. Even if you have a lot of them.
Seriously, though – if you’re regularly experiencing anything like bloating, constipation and even serious diarrhoea , it could be a symptom of irritable bowel syndrome or something even more serious, and needs to get checked out so you can stop panicking and start eating.
3. Excessive sweating.
Feel like you’re constantly sweating through your clothes for no reason at all?
More likely than not, it’s a medical issue, not a personal issue, and one that you’re going to need to address. Go and speak to someone about the remedy to those constantly-wet palms, or the giant sweat patches on your t-shirt.
4. Vagina problems.
I once had a friend who found a tampon inside her. She couldn’t even remember the last time she’d had her period.
Did she go to her doctor and talk about it? Nope. She just told me about it, and swore that she would never, ever go and see a doctor about it – she was too embarrassed.
I’ve had endless friends come to me and tell me about weird lumps, strange discharge, odd sensations and weird rashes. I’ve been told of their experiences with random bleeding during sex, extensive pain and other freaky things.
And yet they are more than likely to just ignore the issue – even when they’re desperately due for a pap smear or an STD test.
Why? Vaginas are embarrassing to so many of us. We’re so shy about our private bits that when things are going wrong, we’re unlikely to actually do anything about it – we’d rather just keep it to ourselves or just tell our best friends.
Seriously, though. If there’s something wrong with your vagina, or any other part of your body, get information from a trustworthy source and then go and see a professional.
You only get one body – and it’s time to take care of it.
What have you felt too embarrassed to go to the doctor about?
So book yourself in for these awkward doctor appointments because let’s be honest, they can’t be nearly as awkward as these family photos …
If you need to go to the bathroom more than 8 times a day or often feel a sense of urgency, you may be part of the 12-17% of the population who have overactive bladder. If you are suffering in silence, it is important to remember you are not alone – there is support for you. Regain Control is a new website designed to lift the lid on overactive bladder and to ensure women have access to information on symptoms, treatment options, guidance on raising the discussion with healthcare professionals and short videos of patients and specialists giving greater insight into the condition.