In a world where a film about periods can simultaneously win an Oscar and be described as “icky”, it’s not surprising to find mixed attitudes towards talking about reproductive and gynaecological health. Yet these are real issues which need to be understood and more widely discussed.
In the UK alone, one in seven couples are known to live with infertility, whilst one in ten women suffer from endometriosis, one in five with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and circa three in ten either have uterine fibroids, or will develop them at some point. Staggeringly, each year around 7,300 women are diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer, and 4,200 sadly lose their lives to the disease; that’s the equivalent of eleven women every day. When you stop to think about it, that’s a lot of family, friends and people we know.
But it’s not just women. It might come as a shock to discover that approximately 50% of all UK infertility issues are male-related. Perhaps then, it’s something we ALL need to discuss a bit more freely.
Which is exactly what Mediaplanet UK are doing.
Launching today, with a printed publication included in every copy of The Guardian, the Reproductive & Gynaecological Health Campaign 2019 aims to shine a light on these still somewhat taboo subjects, raising awareness and helping to remove the stigma too often associated with these all-important conversations.
Working in collaboration with the RCOG, Wellbeing of Women and Fertility Fest’s Jessica Hepburn, the campaign centres around supporting those living with infertility, including features on the fertility journey, plus treatment option opinions from key thought leaders.
I never expected to have trouble conceiving and then, when no child was forthcoming, I’d never anticipated that I would experience such shame and humiliation. I discovered that having a baby is misperceived as being the easiest, most natural thing to do. I also never imagined that, when our child finally was created, it would be due to a microinjection technique, or that he’d be cultivated in a petri-dish, cryopreserved, thawed and transferred. In all honesty, it sounds like something from the future. But it’s not, this is assisted reproduction and what’s regularly happening today. It’s how he, and so many other beings in this world, miraculously began their days.
With thanks to advances in medical science combined with the fact that we are starting to talk, more reproductive conditions are being diagnosed, women and men now have a greater awareness about their fertility, and there is a wider acceptance in the wonderful and varying ways in which families are formed.
With medical know-how and technological knowledge amassing rapidly, we’re being offered an increased understanding about our bodies and gynaecological conditions, improving our health, our wellbeing, and providing ever-growing hope to those who can’t conceive naturally. Whilst it’s important to understand that IVF doesn’t always work, there’s no denying that the world of reproductive science is mind-blowing and awe-inspiring.
Yet we still don’t speak openly of these topics.
Or about our bodies. There’s an embarrassment which doesn’t just appear with infertility but is ever-present in our monthly periods, smear tests or anything to do with those affairs.
And that needs to change. Whilst perceptions are realigning, for the better, we’ve still got a long way to go.
Talking about these subjects brings awareness. It helps to educate, to inform and to let others know they are not alone. So why not take a look at the campaign here, or pick up a copy of The Guardian and have a read. And, if you’re feeling really brave, why not strike up a conversation… Because it’s only by truly talking that taboos will be broken.