Women’s Health: How to Stop Making it a Shameful Secret in 2019

The New Year has finally arrived, it’s 2019, can you believe it? A common trend with the arrival of the new year is to come up with a New Year’s resolution. This is a promise you make to yourself to enhance your life for the better. So, with resolutions in mind, I have a unique challenge for you! It includes making a resolution regarding your own personal health.

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This post is written for people who have a female reproductive system and pertains to their unique body structure, however I would like to include that learning more, and being aware of your body can also translate to everyone else and their specific situation.

Discussing women’s health is often viewed as shameful and taboo. Female biological functions have been, and continue to be, described in ways that make women seem less worthy than men. The male reproductive system is not described in the negative terms that are used to describe menstruation. In referring to menstruation, phrases such as waste, failure and uncleanliness appear often. This leads women to believe that their bodily functions are less clean, and less respectable than male bodily functions. These discriminatory ideas need to be replaced with factual and positive descriptions, as this will open room for much needed discussion about the female reproductive system. Without this discussion, women will not be able to tell the difference between a healthy cycle and an abnormal, or worrisome cycle. My challenge for you is to really get to know your body this year.

For most women, their reproductive system includes two ovaries, two fallopian tubes, a uterus, cervix and vagina. Most women believe that by about age 20, they know about as much as they need to know about their reproductive system, the cycles, and the monthly changes that occur in their body. However, these bodily systems are so complex that we will never know everything about them. Therefore, continual learning for a deeper understanding is encouraged.

“ I also want women to know that their bodily functions are not gross or embarrassing. “

Certain ideas or thoughts have been ingrained in our heads since we were young, and these need to be examined and quite possibly discarded. For example, we should not have to worry about people seeing our tampons or pads in our purses, lockers, or pockets because having a period is a biological fact of life. Or, despite what has been told to us since puberty, being in a lot of pain during your period is actually not normal. In fact, if the pain is severe or immobilizing, this is something you should see a gynaecologist about.

As mentioned previously, having a period is a biological fact of life for most women. However, periods or menstruation, and even menopause, are viewed as topics that would rather be forgotten about, ignored, and swept under the rug as quickly as possible. Most women know that being passive towards your reproductive health does not put you in a favourable position. Yet, there are so many stigmas around women’s health which cause women to ignore concerns about their own personal health. When these indicators are ignored, or brushed aside, certain health issues that could have been avoided are left to fester. Abnormal cycles or symptoms can be a sign of a plethora of diseases, infections, or cancer. Or they might be caused by diet, lifestyle, or genetics. These indicators may be crucial for disease prevention, and early detection of any disease is vital to an enhanced productivity of life, and increased survival rates. Also, early detection can increase the chance that certain treatments will have more success. Understanding your body and finding a doctor or specialist that listens to your concerns is the best option for a high quality life.

Let's break it down:

1. Educate yourself on what is normal.

2. Create a health journal to keep track of things you notice.

3. Present your findings to your doctor and ask important questions.

4. If necessary, ask to be referred to a specialist.

After all, we are our own health advocates, no one else is going to care as deeply as you do about your own health, or understand your body as intimately as you do. The acceptance and knowledge about a woman’s reproductive system should not only be designated towards women. Half the world consists of fathers, brothers, husbands, uncles or grandpas, which have female family members or friends. If a healthy approach is taken by all spectrums and genders, quality of life will most certainly increase.

Here’s to a happy (and just as importantly, healthy) New Year!