Wednesday, 4 June 2014

The Importance of Being Able to Discuss Your "Down There" Anatomy

Most readers of this blog will live in a culture where you are not meant to discuss your private parts - certainly not with a stranger, and in some cases not even with an intimate partner. This means that when we absolutely have to, we use generalisations (see if you can spot the two used so far in this article).

So what's wrong with this, and how does it relate to prolapse?

Embarrassment about discussing our genitals is a big reason why some women do not seek treatment for their prolapse. It also means that when women do seek treatment, they often use vague descriptions that may give medical practitioners  an unclear idea about the situation. Unless you have a GP with truly phenomenal people skills, you are much less likely to get examined if you say "Things have been a bit different down there since childbirth" than if you say "I have a lump at the entrance of my vagina and my perineum is very sore."

One of the diagrams from Scarlet Teen
Here is a great resource from Australian sex ed website Scarlet Teen that takes you on a guided tour of your genitals: The Vagina, Clitoris, Uterus and More. While you may not feel comfortable looking closely at your genitals or touching them in certain ways, the diagrams on this website will really help you to identify and name each of the parts of your anatomy.
The next step is to practise using this terminology. You could do this by saying the terms aloud to yourself, or talking to an intimate partner or trusted friend. If you find yourself really unable to say these terms, consider using them in a written explanation of your symptoms which you can then give to your doctor. You may even wish to show this page to someone acting as your advocate, and ask them to speak to the doctor on your behalf.

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