Dear Dr. Brandi – I am a 35-year-old woman, and I still struggle with talking about my body. I’ve recently started paying more attention to some things happening with my body, namely around my sexual health, but I have been too embarrassed to ask my questions, even with my doctor. How can I overcome this shame and get the help I need?
1. Use reputable resources to learn terms. Lots of our shame comes from a lack of knowledge that is common in our culture. Remember, learning more about your reproductive system is just as important as learning about your digestive system. It deserves care and understanding. Start with Mayo Clinic, Women’s Digital Health Instagram, and basic anatomy sites or books to get familiar with terms like “vulva” and “Mons pubis.” Knowing the proper names for organs will help you speak about your body more confidently. Understanding these terms will spark your curiosity about how these organs work and are interconnected. When gathering initial information about your symptoms, refrain from attempting to self-diagnose yourself. Write down your questions to prepare your conversations with experts
2. Approach your body with curiosity. Education leads to understanding. When something unfamiliar happens to your body, approach it with interest. Document what you are experiencing. Note things like: when certain things happen, under what conditions, and the impact it has on your well-being. Focus on keeping an open mind and understanding your body rather than judging it. An experienced physician has likely seen your condition and answered your questions for many others. They want to help you, not to pass judgment. If you feel you need more support, ISSWSH is an excellent resource for finding expert sexual health physicians, therapists, and researchers in your area. Pleasure, anatomy, and sexual function are all topics you have a right to learn more about without feeling embarrassed.
3. You are not alone! Join a supportive community. Health communities, such as Women’s Digital Health, are a great place to connect with other women experiencing a similar health journey. Helping women feel less shame around their health is one of the main reasons Women’s Digital Health was created. Community is a powerful tool for facilitating healing and finding acceptance. By sharing your concern in a safe space, you will find that you are not alone. There is no reason to feel shame about your body or health. Let’s grow this community by sending us questions, following us on Instagram, and LinkedIn, and sharing this newsletter with everyone who could benefit.
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