A Quarter of Women Ignore Symptoms In Case Doctors Judge Them For Being Promiscuous
The Debrief: Despite there being no known link between promiscuity and ovarian cancer, we're afraid of discussing our sexual history
A new poll of 1,000 women, carried out by women’s cancer charity The Eve Appeal has found that one in four women are reluctant to discuss their symptoms with a GP because they’re uncomfortable talking about their sexual history.
Never mind that the Hippocratic Oath – the document that dictates doctors’ behavior and that is still sworn by many medical graduates – states that ‘warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug’ and that ‘I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know’ – many women are still afraid or embarrassed to discuss gynaecological issues such as bleeding, pain and discharge, for fear that doctors will ask about their sexual past.
In short, we don’t want to talk about how many people we’ve slept with in case doctors think we’re sluts.
Of course, there is no known link between promiscuity and womb, ovarian, cervical, vulval or vaginal cancer. Furthermore, The Eve Appeal says there is no known association between the sexually transmitted high-risk forms of human papilloma viruses (HPV) and uterine and ovarian cancers, the two most common gynaecological forms of the disease.
And yet one in five of the women surveyed thought there was, and four in 10 felt that there was more stigma around womb, ovarian and vaginal cancers than other forms of the disease.
The fear is baseless – if you’re experiencing symptoms of gynaecological illness, your doctor will not automatically assume this is because you’re promiscuous. Cancer doesn’t work that way. But, more to the point, doctors are not there to judge – they are there to help. So help them to help you by being open and honest about your health, your body and your lifestyle.
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