health

'I'm a GP. Here are the 6 things I wish women would stop feeling embarrassed about.'

As women, our bodies do lots of weird and wonderful things. We are constantly changing! And there has probably been a time when something occurs that might be a little embarrassing or taboo, and you find yourself asking, is this normal? 

Well, the truth is, health professionals have probably seen five other people like you that day.  

Watch: How well do you know your 'Lady Garden'? Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia

But new research by Priceline Pharmacy has found that women preferred to let that rash get angrier, or let that tingle turn into an itch, because speaking to a health professional was too awkward an ask.

In fact, the study found 38 per cent of women experienced an uncomfortable condition for longer than necessary, and nearly half (47 per cent) of women have googled symptoms because they were too embarrassed to turn to a health professional.  

As a GP, here are the 6 things I wish women would stop feeling embarrassed about: 

Changes to vaginal discharge or odour.

This is a common topic of discussion in my consulting room. 

Patient’s often start the consult with, “I’m so embarrassed but things are different down there.” 

Honestly, you are probably the third person in the day I’ve spoken to with the same problem – there is nothing to be embarrassed about and you certainly aren’t alone! 

Vaginal discharge and odour changes can be due to a range of issues such as thrush, bacterial vaginosis or sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia so it’s well worth a chat with a health professional, whether that be a GP or a pharmacist.

Having your cervical cancer screening test done (previously named a pap smear).

Please, please don’t feel embarrassed about this. 

We also don’t remember your vagina the next time you come in – trust me!

A cervical cancer screen can be lifesaving and literally prevents cervical cancer – the intention is to pick up changes before they progress to cancer.

Patients will often get really embarrassed and apologise for not having had a pedicure or their legs waxed as they climb onto the examination bed; trust me, the last thing I’m doing is looking at any of those things. My job is to locate your cervix, take the samples and high five you for coming in for your test! 

ADVERTISEMENT

Acne.

Acne on the face, chest, back or body can make a lot of patients feel embarrassed, but it's very common. 

As a teenager who struggled with the condition (and wishes I knew then what I know now) I totally get it! Please get help for your skin if you need it. 

There are so many things a health professional like your GP or pharmacist can do to help.

Seeking help for mental health issues.

Sadly, mental health issues are still heavily steeped in stigma and this stops a lot of people – men and women – from seeking help. 

It shouldn’t be awkward or embarrassing to seek help for stress, depression, anxiety, or any mental health issue. People often feel embarrassed asking for help thinking they need to be at rock bottom to seek help from a health professional – that’s not the case. Come in early, have a chat and see what options are available.

You may benefit from some lifestyle tweaks like sleep hygiene measures to improve sleep quality, prescribed exercise or caffeine reduction, or you may need interventions such as referral to a psychologist.  

Anything to do with feet. 

Feet are part of your body and they are nothing to be embarrassed about! 

Nail changes, flaky skin, warts, corns – we are happy to see it and you don’t need to say sorry one million times as you take your shoes off! 

Gut problems like diarrhoea, bloating and wind.

Priceline Pharmacy’s research found that 57 per cent of women have experienced gas, bloating or constipation, yet 31 per cent were too embarrassed to discuss it. 

That’s a lot of people not seeking the help they need.

Talk to us about your gut symptoms – and don’t be embarrassed about them because they are very (very) common! If you keep putting off a chat about symptoms like diarrhoea and bloating, you could be sitting on an undiagnosed coeliac disease or inflammatory bowel disease and it’s not worth it. 

Ditch the embarrassment and come talk to a health professional like a GP or pharmacist.

For more from Dr Preeya, follow her on Instagram.

Feature Image: Instagram/thewholesomedoctor