A campaign to improve quality of life for women with distressing reproductive health conditions has been backed by Dr Pixie McKenna from TV’s Embarrassing Bodies.
EveryWoman Day uses visually striking “belly selfies” for women to share their experiences about how they cope with diseases that traditionally aren’t talked about.
Women write a headline on their bellies and tell their stories alongside their photo. The belly part is significant because it’s where the problems lie and because these embarrassing “women’s troubles” have traditionally not been talked about, so this is a way to bring them into the open, without the need to show your face.
Dr Pixie McKenna says:
If you are up for it, why not post a belly selfie and share your story?
It never ceases to amaze me how so many women are embarrassed to talk about their bodies. I include myself in this statement!
Despite years as an on-screen doctor on Embarrassing Bodies, I’m never the first in line when it comes to seeing a doctor or disclosing my most intimate problems.
But rest assured if you, like me, are a bit backward about coming forward where intimate health is concerned, there’s no need. As doctors, we really have seen and heard it all before! So, don’t be shy, get it sorted!
EveryWoman Day is so called because conditions that can severely limit quality of life, such as interstitial cystitis, lichen sclerosus, overactive bladder, PCOS etc, could strike every woman, regardless of background or circumstances.
All too often, women don’t go to the doctor and instead put up with problems which could be potentially serious with life limiting consequences, because they are embarrassed to talk about them, and/or they tell themselves it’s normal.
With less than 2.5% of publicly funded research funds spent on the whole area of female health conditions, it’s not as if new medicines and therapies are being found every day.
It can take a decade of suffering just to get a diagnosis, only to find that no one is sure what causes the problem, and there’s no cure.
EveryWoman Day aims to raise awareness, funds for research and support, and hope.
Women have to learn to manage their pain and symptoms. Often lifestyle factors can have a significant impact, but what works for one woman doesn’t necessarily work for every woman. The more women share their experiences, the more women learn how to cope with their own conditions. The more awareness is raised, the more women will seek help, and the more pressure there will be to research cures. People can donate via buttons for relevant charities on the EveryWoman website.
Dr Karen Gardiner, founder of EveryWoman Day, said:
The average time to diagnosis for endometriosis is seven years. For interstitial cystitis is can be 10 years. Around two-thirds of menopausal women have vaginal dryness but only one in four of them will ask for help. These things need to change.
The EveryWoman campaign is practical, but it’s more than that. It’s also about inspiration.
It can be desperately difficult just to get through the day when you are in agony, or when you are up 22 times in the night to pee, or when you are bleeding so much that you need to double up sanitary pads and tampons. Yet women keep turning up for work, getting the kids to school and activities, looking after elderly relatives, and pulling off all sorts of extraordinary things to make ordinary life tick over.
How do they do it? Sharing these stories will help and inspire other women to manage their own challenges.
That’s why we have launched the EveryWoman Day Award, with £250 of M&S/John Lewis vouchers as a prize for the most inspirational story, which can be uploaded until October 1st. We want to recognise the incredible women who quietly go about their business with untold problems in their bellies.