As I have written in previous posts, I have always had a problem with body modesty.
Largely that I don’t have any.
My poor neighbours are often flashed a full frontal as I walk around the house in the buff, and I have been known to show off a particularly brazen Brazilian in the work toilets to one of my loveliest pals (sorry PF!) But for some reason discussing our vaginas, even when they’re is something wrong, still feels taboo.
After pushing out two babies, one of which was 9.7lbs and had a head off the friggin charts, being torn and ripped in the process, my fugee la has undergone some serious changes. However, it wasn’t until roughly a year after Raffy that I started having problems with my periods.
After asking my GALS Whatsapp group whether getting through four super plus tampons a day was normal, I tentatively set off to see my GP ready to rumble through my lengthy list of period related problems. What I wasn’t prepared for was telling Ali, our friendly neighbourhood pharmacist sitting in our surgery, all about my achy vagina. But nonetheless I did, TWICE (he was there yet again when I had to return with more symptoms).
It was when my periods went from heavy and achy to irregular, with post coital bleeding and pain, that I began to feel more anxious and consequently booked to see a gynaecologist. Shockingly, despite all these symptoms, I was not offered a cervical smear on the NHS. Being three months off from my routine test meant I had to wait and, as my symptoms were now dominating my every day, this option didn’t seem too appealing. So I decided to go private.
I wish I could tell you that spreading your legs in some stirrups and having a consultant root round in your innards is great fun. It isn’t, but it isn’t particularly bad either. After having children getting your fandango out for a stranger or two no longer seems like such a big deal. Also, it’s a great excuse for a treat. In my case, sparkly nails and a really big piece of cake (see below).
Coincidentally September is Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month. I know this because I would see important ads and features highlighting the stats and I would feel a little bit sick. However this isn’t as bad as I would feel if I was having these symptoms and simply sitting on them. Amazingly, according to research from the team behind The Lady Garden Campaign, over a THIRD OF WOMEN are too embarrassed to see a doctor about gynaecological concerns. That is a huge number! Of course discussing periods, discharge and all the other wonderful workings of the female form can make you feel a little red faced, but it is so important! In fact, if could be life saving, and what is more important than that.
Thankfully my smear test came back as normal, and after a few other tests I discovered I had the world smallest fibroid, polycystic ovaries and a condition called adenomyosis. All very common, particularly in women who’ve had children. A HUGE relief! Yes, the process wasn’t a barrel of laughs, but I now have peace of mind and no matter the result I was in control and, crucially, looking after myself.
For any women (or men for that matter) worried about their health, please go and see your GP, no matter how embarrassing. And just think, if I can face pharmacist Ali every time I have to pick up a nit comb or a pack of plasters, you can speak up too.
Gemma is a PR specialist turned CBW (chief bottom wiper), a wannabe writer and wife of an ice cream peddler. You can read her ramblings on parenthood and more on her blog Coffee, Kids & Ice Cream or in bitesize chunks on her twitter @gemmacapocci.