Women urged to discuss wellbeing openly this Sexual Health Week

·1-min read

Women often feel embarrassed or awkward about discussing sexual health.

But to mark Sexual Health Week, which runs from 12-18 September, intimate health expert Dr Shirin Lakhani has urged ladies to bring up topics they are concerned about - including a range of symptoms from incontinence to mental health to menopause - with either their doctor or a support person.

"Women's health continues to be downplayed, especially around sexual health, and women often go incorrectly treated," she stated. "Sexual health-related issues are wide-ranging and can encompass everything from sexual dysfunction, sexual expression, and also pleasure."

Dr Lakhani went on to note that topics women are often too concerned to bring up include vaginismus, a painful spasmodic contraction of the vagina in response to contact or pressure, or lichen sclerosus - an uncommon condition that creates patchy, white skin - that can affect the genital areas of women.

Another condition that is often poorly managed is endometriosis, where tissue starts to grow outside of the womb in other places, such as the ovaries and bladder.

"I know of women with endometriosis who before diagnosis were told they have a low pain threshold. In many cases, diagnosis can take several years and even when they have a diagnosis, women are told to either live with it or go on birth control," the expert continued. "We need to make sure women feel like they are listened to and that they can talk to family, friends, and their doctor about their symptoms. Nobody should be suffering at home with conditions which can be treated."