In a country where sex is considered taboo, topics like sexual health, predominantly female reproductive health are often brushed under the carpet.
“No one can help us as much as we can help ourselves.”― Sherrie Palm, Pelvic Organ Prolapse: The Silent Epidemic
In conservative societies, there is often a lack of exposure to proper sex education. It is also one of the reasons why women’s health is deteriorating day by day. When women don’t know about their bodies well, how would they come out and get themselves treated for certain conditions like STIs, UTIs, breast cancer, and cervical cancer, among others, where early diagnosis is the key.
According to a report of the Family Planning Association (FPA) of India, 14 percent of pregnancies among women under 20 are unplanned. It posits further that over 34 percent of adolescent married girls admitted to being physically, emotionally, or sexually assaulted. Unsafe abortion practices have led to fifty percent maternal deaths among girls from 15-19 years of age. It is a scenario where sexual and reproductive health is not a category within laws and medical courses.
Common Sexual Health issues women face in everyday life:
1) Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Commonly known as PMS, it is a medical condition with symptoms that affect many women of childbearing age.
2) Menstrual Pain
The main reason for absenteeism in women younger than 30 years is menstrual pain. Symptoms temporarily disable 10% of menstruating women.
3) Heavy Periods (Menorrhagia)
4) Irregular Periods
5) Menstrual Blood Problems
Changes in color and the thickness of vaginal secretion might indicate underlying diseases.
Fungal Infections and STDs:
Lack of proper hygiene and protection may also lead to various sexually transmitted and fungal diseases.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and Weight Gain:
One of the major problems in today’s world affecting millions of women worldwide.
Sexuality is an integral part of one’s health and, quality of life, and general wellbeing. A positive and considerate approach to sexuality and sexual relationships and to have pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, with free will & without discrimination and violence is a must.
The following strategies may be beneficial in the promotion of female sexual health:-
- TALK ABOUT IT: Young teens engaging in sexual activity have a lot of peer pressure and anxiety associated with it. Women often feel conscious to visit their gynecologist for their sexual problems. So, the primary aim of this strategy must be to make sexual health a commonly discussed topic.
- EDUCATION: Education can, on various levels starting from proper training of health care providers and counselors at the community, school, and home. Teaching about women’s bodies, modes of contraception, menstrual problems, and pregnancy.
- ACCEPTANCE: Instead of pushing it in the backseat, sexual health promotion should be practiced, and professionals should be encouraged to handle the patients with more compassion and empathy.