Can you talk about everything to your gynecologist or doctor?

privacy

Foof, flamoes, pussy, down-under, or simply vagina. One word, three syllables VA-GI-NA and yet it brings with it a lot of giggles, cries of shame, and stigma. When I am talking about Isala in all its colors to my own environment, I realize that not everyone is ready for it. This is totally different at our lab. Even before launching Isala, the word ‘vagina’ was commonplace in our meetings, our desks, and at the lunch table. And no, our lab is not only made up of women. Perhaps we as a population simply need exposure therapy? 

Challenge: Can you bring up the word ‘vagina’ at least once a day in a normal conversation? Extra points if you can do it at reception. 😊 

Now you are probably thinking: “Hmm what are we with that now?” Well, we do want to start a non-pink revolution with Isala. Meaning that we not only want to break the taboo with women but with everyone. Because the consequences of the stigma surrounding vaginal health are significant and even risky. The effect is visible in various areas in our society and is permanent: 

  • The lack of proper sex education in schools 
  • Policymakers prefer to avoid the subject and, therefore, also the discussions of funds. As a result, there remains a shortage of financial resources. 
  • Insufficiently informed mothers who cannot pass it on to their daughters and sons 
  • Couples who are afraid to discuss certain inconveniences 
  • And so much more… 

There is plenty of evidence that the conversation needs to be urgently conducted in all society layers. Because more than 72% of the Isala participants are concerned about their vaginal health. And half of them dare talk about their vaginal health with their GP. However, almost one in three women does not even dare talk about it with the gynecologist. 

These figures may even be underestimated because when push comes to shove, it is not that easy to talk about vaginal health with your doctor or gynecologist. For example, I heard from a friend that she found it more difficult than expected to raise the subject with her doctor. She was even a little nervous about it. However, she has no problem pronouncing her vagina out loud. She can also talk openly about this with her partner. I am delighted that she mentioned that the topic was not taboo to discuss with her partner. However, our questionnaires show that only 23% of women can talk about vaginal health with their partners. With these numbers in mind, it is not difficult to believe that many pregnant women often do not dare speak about vaginal ailments during their ultrasound appointment when their partner is also present. So, it is clear that even in a family situation, there is still a taboo surrounding vaginal health. 

But why, actually? Because we can talk frankly about many other physical ailments and discomforts. Also, it seems essential to us to speak to your children, partner, and friends about vaginal health. A healthy vagina is incredibly important for your physical, mental, and emotional health, your fertility, and of course, your sexual pleasure. And you deserve to feel good in every way. 

Let’s break the taboo together, step by step, conversation by conversation, and all the way to all circles in our society. Yes, we can! 

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Isala wants to break the taboo around vaginal health. That’s why all our research kits contain great conversation starters  (also online available). Use these cards as inspiration for interesting chats with friends and family, and find out how much there is to say about vaginal health.

You can also start a conversation online by clicking on a question and adding your response. You can do it anonymously – your first name is fine. The Isala researchers will answer your question. This way, we can increase knowledge about the female microbiome and break the taboo together. That’s our dream at Isala. Feel free to add comments and ask questions – let’s start the conversation together!