Vulva. Itch. Vagina. Discharge. Words that most women don’t like to think about let alone talk about. While we are getting better at addressing women’s health issues, there are still a lot of topics that women shy away from. But ladies, these parts of your anatomy and physiology are just as important as your sore shoulder or migraine. No physical process should be taboo.
So, this Women’s Health Week, lets look at five very common, but lesser talked about, symptoms that no women should ignore.
1. Irregular Vaginal Bleeding
Any sudden change in menstrual cycles or bleeding throughout the cycle shouldn’t be ignored. Similarly, any women that have been through menopause and then develop vaginal bleeding should always speak to a doctor. Irregular bleeding might be due to stress, weight changes or a change in lifestyle, but it can also be a sign of underlying hormonal issues or even some forms of gynaecological cancers.
2. Change in Vaginal Discharge
A lot of women experience changes in their vaginal discharge throughout their monthly cycle, however any new change that is different from what you regularly experience, should be checked out. That might be a change in volume, consistency, colour or odour. A change may indicate an infection or an imbalance in vaginal flora. It is important to get this addressed as, if some infections are left untreated, they can result in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which can then impact on fertility.
3. Bleeding or Pain During/After Intercourse
Bleeding or pain associated with sexual intercourse may be due to something benign such as vaginal dryness (commonly occurring with the Pill, some depression/anxiety medications or perimenopause) but it may also be a sign of infection, inflammation or even cervical cancer. So it should always be discussed with a doctor.
4. Vulval/Vaginal itch
I know, I know, no one wants to talk about their itchy vagina or vulva. But it is not something to shy away from. In fact, you would be surprised how common vulval itch is. And guess what, it can often be easily treated. Yes, you heard right, you don’t have to suffer through it! Another important reason to chat about it with your doctor, as if it being incredibly uncomfortable isn’t enough, is that occasionally itch can be related to more sinister conditions. So it is important to always get it checked out.
5. Vulval skin lesions
I’m guessing the last time you had a skin check you left your underwear on, right? Well guess what, even though it probably doesn’t see a lot of sunlight, you can get skin cancer on your vulva too. So it is important to get any moles or skin lesions on your vulva checked by your doctor.
The take home, don’t ignore any symptoms out of fear or embarrassment. A body is a body. And that is that.