Let’s be honest, most women are incredibly private in regards to every aspect of their gynaecological health. Many of us actively avoid any type of investigation into how things are going down there. A significant number of women can probably admit to sitting on a letter for a little bit too long in an attempt to avoid booking an appointment for a routine cervical screening.
The difficulty that this provides, however, is that many of the signs and symptoms of gynaecological cancers go unnoticed for longer than other types of cancers. Research has shown that the relative awareness of gynaecological cancers in comparison with others is relatively low, with many women unable to name any type of gynaecological cancers at all.
So, what should women watch out for?
The problem with identifying symptoms is that often they can be a little vague and difficult to spot. It is perhaps for this reason that women need to make a greater commitment to consulting a gynaecologist with any irregularities that they may notice, whether that’s bleeding, discharge, pain or discomfort in the pelvic, back or abdominal area (though this is by no means an exclusive list).
There is great difficulty in naming symptoms as they are often a part of common health checklists, something that isn’t helpful in these circumstances. What many gynaecologists want is for women to tune into their bodies natural rhythms, movements and behaviours then to act quickly on any changes or abnormalities.
Find a trusted healthcare professional to investigate your worries. Some women feel more comfortable with a female gynaecologist to talk through their concerns. Dr Tania Adib is one of Londons leading gynaecologists and has specialist expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of gynaecological cancer.
Often the symptoms that are identified can be a result of other gynaecological conditions unrelated to cancer and your gynaecologist may begin exploring other diagnosis and treatment options for you.
What to do right now
We need to work towards ridding gynaecological health of its less than glamorous stigma. We need to start talking about it, empowering ourselves and other women to access the expertise that they need to ensure that every woman receives timely diagnosis and treatment related to all gynaecological conditions.