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Women too embarrassed to discuss health issues with GP

New research suggests that nearly half of all Aussie women would rather Google their symptoms than discuss them with a GP. We find out why.

We’ve all had that moment of dread before confiding in a doctor something that is by all accounts, a completely normal bodily occurrence. It turns out that dread is enough for many women to suffer in silence, according to a new study.

Commissioned by Priceline Pharmacy, the research reveals that nearly half (47%) of Aussie women have ‘Googled’ their symptoms because they are too embarrassed to turn to a health professional.

To make matters worse, women preferred to let their rashes and tingles get worse, because speaking to a professional was too awkward to bear. In fact, 38% of women experienced an uncomfortable condition for longer than necessary and 22% avoided seeking help all together or refused to collect medicine from a pharmacy because they were too embarrassed.

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Conditions deemed too embarrassing to ask about include thrush, heavy periods, acne, excessive sweating, bloating and constipation. It’s ironic because those same conditions (gas, bloating, constipation, heavy periods and thrush) are also the most common health conditions women will experience in their lives.

Long story, short – don’t be afraid or ashamed of your body and what’s happening in it. You’re in good company if you’ve ever been through any of these issues.

So, to help those who may be unsure about a condition they’re experiencing, we spoke with Dr Preeya Alexander, GP and Priceline Pharmacy Health Expert about her first hand experience as a doctor with those conditions that have been blacklisted as ‘too embarrassing.”

Thrush

“Any of us can suffer from thrush! It’s incredibly common; 75% of women have experienced vaginal thrush at some point in their life – you may be familiar with that itchy feeling and vaginal discharge. There’s nothing to be ashamed of and I can guarantee you will be much more comfortable if you ask for help from your pharmacist or GP!”

Period Cramps

“When it comes to periods, what is “normal” is actually a big spectrum! If you have heavy, painful periods, however, that affect your ability to function then it’s worth having a chat to a health professional because it could be due to underlying conditions such as endometriosis. Chatting to someone will allow you to see if investigation into underlying issues is warranted and we can also offer loads of interventions that might help make your periods more bearable!”

Vaginal discharge

“This is a common topic of discussion in my consulting room and it’s absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about, I would rather you ask than Google! Vaginal discharge and odour changes can be normal according to where you are at in your menstrual cycle (discharge tends to be more pronounced around ovulation for instance) or it may be due to a range of issues such as thrush, bacterial vaginosis, or sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia so it’s well worth a chat with a health professional!”

Bloating

“This is one that you shouldn’t sit on, and chances are I have spoken to multiple people in one day about the same gut related issues – it’s nothing to be embarrassed about! If you keep putting off a chat about symptoms like diarrhoea and bloating, you could be sitting on an undiagnosed coeliac disease or inflammatory bowel and it is not worth it.”

Acne

“Acne and skin issues are something we commonly see by health professionals! There are plenty of things we can do to help with acne breakouts – from lifestyle tweaks to medication options- so talk to us! It doesn’t matter how inflamed or widespread it is; it’s nothing to be embarrassed about!”