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female health

“The world is disturbingly comfortable with the fact that women sometimes leave a sexual encounter in tears.” Lili Loofbourow

According to a recent study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, about 30 percent of women report feeling pain during vaginal intercourse.

This alarming statistic is only recorded amongst women who are even comfortable speaking to doctors about sex, meaning that a far greater number could be more accurate.

Another hugely concerning fact which the study expressed is that "large proportions" of women don't tell their partners when sex hurts, they simply grin and bear it.

This testifies to the notion that women often sacrifice their pleasure, not to mention their comfort, for male satisfaction. The assumption that “bad sex” simply means the absence of pleasure is a naïve one- for many women, “bad sex” can mean extreme discomfort and even agony.

Debby Herbenick, an academic from the Indiana University School of Public Health and one of those who incentivised the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behaviour, confirmed this suggestion.

"When it comes to 'good sex,'" she commented, "women often mean without pain, men often mean they had orgasms."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Pelvic Floor PTWPB,FL (@healthycorept) on

The satisfaction scale for men and women is clearly imbalanced. Painful sex isn’t the rare outlier that it’s proclaimed to be, in fact, it’s far more widespread than imagined.

For some women, such as those suffering from illnesses such as endometriosis, ectopic pregnancies and vaginismus, it’s part of their reality.

For others, they are in need of more foreplay, lubrication or comfort. Anxiety and tension can have a drastic impact on female sexual pleasure. 

There are dozens of possible reasons why you could be experiencing pain during sex, ranging from the physical to the psychological.

The troubling thing is that so many of these reasons are not well-known, and they are scarcely researched or prioritised in our healthcare systems.

Dyspareunia is the medical term for painful sex, and can be a deeply distressing condition which takes a massive emotional toll on those who experience it.

According to another scientific article on women’s pain:

“Approximately 15% of women have chronic dyspareunia that is poorly understood, infrequently cured, often highly problematic, and distressing.”

The stigma surrounding problems such as the ones mentioned above is part of the reason why women aren’t discussing their sexual pain, especially not with healthcare practitioners.

Even if a woman feels willing and able to discuss her sex life with her doctor, the lack of research into female pain in general as well as in sexual medicine means that even more barriers crop up.

Sexual assault arguably can also contribute towards experiencing pain during future sexual encounters.

Numerous studies support the idea that a mental block is created surrounding sex, which lives with survivors long after their attack.

Without a healthy view of sex and positive sexual experiences, women are not being given the tools to vocalise their pain.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Gynatrof (@gynatrof) on

Other disorders such as vulvodynia, vestibulodynia, interstitial cystitis, vaginitis, vaginal atrophy, fibroids, lichen sclerosus and lichen planus (skin disorders), ovarian cysts and endometriosis have all been grossly under-reported, and awareness of these conditions is extremely limited.

Yeast infections, overly tight pelvic floor muscles, bowel problems and hormonal imbalances can also be major contributors to pain during sex, as well as STI’s.

BBC Three has recently aired a visceral visual essay series, where director Sindha Agha decided to artistically depicted the female experience of painful sex.

The beautiful video uses colourful imagery and imaginative props such as glass, metal nails, sprinkles, knives and fruit to parallel with the emotional narration:

Endometriosis sufferer Rhoda Hierons reads her own words aloud with a gorgeous and vivid backdrop, describing the pain of sex as “glass shattering inside you and embedding itself”.

Sindha Agha emotively explains the meaning behind her video: “I’m trying to create an external language for women’s innermost experiences,” she claims.

“As women, I feel we’ve been led to believe that many of our experiences are indescribable, incommunicable; that even when we can figure out how to talk about what happens inside our bodies and our minds, that we’d better not — that others don’t want to hear it because it’s too gross, too sad, too strange. Above all, that we won’t be understood."

System injustices in healthcare need to change if women ever want to truly understand and gain respect for their own bodies.

Women have never been given the tools to communicate their pain, especially not during sex. Language is not in a woman’s favour, even the medical understanding of the female anatomy is not where it should be.

Without the words, women cannot use language to communicate.

Without language, there is no voice that can even attempt to ask for the help that they desperately need. 

For more information, check out some of these informative websites on pain and female sexual health:

Mayo Clinic – Dyspareunia

https://www.mazewomenshealth.com/painful-sex-vaginal-pain/

Ask Me About My Uterus -New York Times

Centre for Vulvo-Vaginal Disorders

https://Sexual Advice Association UK

https://YouTube- Pelvic Pain

https://rebelliousmagazine.com/guide-reclaiming-pleasurable-sex-dyspareunia-beyond/ 

American College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists

Vulval Pain Society

Endometriosis Society of Ireland

Feature image: Agnes Cecile/Instagram/@agnes_cecile

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Most of us are more than aware that we need to leave our vaginas alone. Whatever goes up there can cause some serious problems for your foof, so be a bit careful.

However, it seems a certain part of the population has to be told not to put a certain cold treat up there during scorching hot heatwave temperatures…

The UK is set to be hit with the hottest temperature on record today, with highs of 39 degrees Celsius expected. Medical advice online has now released tips on how to cool down, and ice lollies aren't on the list.

One suggestion out there is literally something that should never have been said, but apparently some women are this desperate for some chilly relief.

I'm not quite sure who would consider putting ice lollies up their vagina, but there must be at least one person out there who's doing it if doctors have released a warning against the act.

Speaking to Metro, Dr Sarah Welsh, co-founder of condom brand HANX, warned women not to put ice lollies anywhere near their genitals.

She commented:

"The vagina is composed of very delicate and sensitive skin, hence things that may seem innocent to other areas of the body, if they come in contact with the vagina, can cause infections, irritations and damage.

"There are many things that should never go near a vagina and ice lollies are up there. The ice can stick to the delicate skin of the vagina and cause real trauma and damage."

The sugar in the lolly can also disrupt the natural pH of the vagina, and the lolly is also likely to break inside you. This could honestly be the plot of a horror movie, there's so many things wrong here.

A nurse in June warned women not to try and vacuum their periods after two young women were hospitalised for trying the absurd task.

The 29 and 23-year-old women had used a Hoove to attempt to suck up their menstrual blood, and this was the point where we felt the bile rise at the back of our throats. Dear God.

In a now-deleted tweet, the nurse emphasised the dangers of trying the Hoover method:

"Your period has a steady flow of its own that for all intents and purposes your body can tolerate. A vacuum increases the flow over 1,000 times which your body can't tolerate, therefore sending you into shock."

Over the last few months, women have also been urged not to put garlic, parsley, bath bombs and cucumbers inside their vaginas. Honestly, it just shows how sexual health education is really lacking.

Leave your lady-business alone gals, or you won't be feeling so fanny-astic in the nurse's office.

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In an incredible breakthrough for cancer research, a female scientist from the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) has reportedly found a complete cure for human papillomavirus (HPV).

The apparent cure would help to prevent the spread of cervical cancer among women. Dr Eva Ramon Gallegos, a Mexican scientist, claims to have eliminated the virus in 29 patients infected with HPV.

The report states that a team of researchers, led by Dr. Gallegos, treated the 29 women with non-invasive photodynamic therapy (PDT), which involves using a drug called a photosensitizer and a particular type of light to treat different areas of the body.

Dr. Gallegos had been studying the effects of photodynamic therapy for an amazing 20 YEARS to help tackle tumours such as breast and melanoma cancer, and specialised in the study of photodynamic therapy.

She treated 420 patients in Oaxaca and Veracruz, as well as 29 women in Mexico, with the technique. The repercussions from the treatment were promising; photodynamic therapy was able to eradicate the virus in all patients.

The virus was eradicated in 100 percent of those tested who carried HPV without premalignant lesions of cervical cancer using photodynamic therapy. The treatment was 64.3 percent successful in women with both HPV and lesions.

The therapy has no side effects, which is amazing as it doesn't do any damage at all to the body to have the treatment.

Dr. Gallegos said; “Unlike other treatments, it only eliminates damaged cells and does not affect healthy structures. Therefore, it has great potential to decrease the death rate from cervical cancer,” Radio Guama report.

HPV is a widespread virus from all over the world, with more than 100 variants. 14 of these variants can cause cervical cancer, a disease which is fast becoming a leading cause for death among female cancer patients.

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Feature image: National Polytechnic Institute

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