I don’t know whether it’s a case of my mildly conservative up-bringing, my very conservative schooling or my tendency to Google-diagnose, but I have no idea what goes on ‘down there’.
As a 20-year-old, educated student whose friends are finishing university and taking on the big scary world, I am noticing a trend of cluelessness when faced with a womanly medical problem.
(Warning, the rest of this post may cause men to feel awkward.)
Late cycles, itches, pains, pills – all issues many women face in their lives.
But when something untoward occurs in this area, a young woman’s first reaction is to panic, Google it, then call all of her friends to convince her she couldn’t possibly have what Google told her she has.
I can’t honestly say a month has passed in the last couple of years where a friend hasn’t joked about, but secretly lost sleep over, the possibility of being pregnant.
Of course, they never are, because we are just misreading signs our bodies are giving us.
This constant state of pregnancy paranoia can consume an entire day, or week, waiting for that bittersweet red flag to wave… and when it does, life continues as normal. Phew.
But what worries me is how little we understand our own bodies, and the quirks, changes and pains we are bound to get.
At the risk of sounding foolish, I only just a few weeks ago understood how the pill actually works.
It took an accidental stumble upon an episode of Dr Oz while I was at work at 5am to find out why women get urinary tract infections (UTIs) a lot.
And I still haven’t fully grasped the concept of what happens when, and why, in a menstrual cycle.
I never got a lesson. My primary school had sex education in year 5, but I left in year 3. My science teacher in year 9 had the thankless task of teaching a class of giggling girls the anatomy of the reproductive organs. And I vaguely remember a family planning van that visited in year 11, and there was a Styrofoam contraption and a condom… and then I draw a blank.
But I do know I was never told the common things that should or could happen to my private parts.
So, I did what any inquisitive, paranoid, internet savvy person would do. I Googled it.
Google-diagnosing is like running into a crowded bar and yelling, “DOES ANYONE KNOW WHY MY OVARIES HURT IN WEEK 2 OF MY MENSTRUAL CYCLE?” and taking the advice of the drunken old man in the corner.
The internet is crawling with forums of panicked symptom-sufferers asking questions, fearing the worst.
But after a conversation with a complete random, with no medical background, we sign off feeling relieved that someone else shares our symptoms and is still alive to give ‘advice’.
On the other hand, a quick search of your period pain symptoms can lead to you believing you have the worst of diseases, when in fact you probably don’t.
If I knew, if we knew, how everything works, why it does what it does and when, perhaps there would be less panicked trips to the doctor or late night sweats over search results.
This post is a bit of a hit and miss – here I am telling you that women don’t know enough about their sexual health, and you could be sitting there shaking your head and raising one eyebrow.
Here’s hoping it’s not just me and my friends.
If it is… does anyone have a Women’s Health book I can borrow?
Isobel is an un-medicated news junkie, serial intern and social media fiend. She has a ‘real job’ in television production on the weekends. She tweets at @isobelroe, blogs at andthisiswhywecanthavenicethings.blogspot.com.au and unleashes inner anguish in the Water-polo pool on Sundays.
Is what happens ‘down there’ a mystery to you?
Here’s why it’s a REALLY BAD IDEA to Google your symptoms – click here