The Eve Appeal, a UK national charity raising awareness and funding research into the five gynaecological cancers – womb, ovarian, cervical, vulval and vaginal – has this month launched its #GetLippy campaign.
The #GetLippy campaign is about encouraging women to talk openly about gynaecological health, smashing the taboos, asking questions and raising money. It aims to provide women with the right information and confidence to talk clearly about anatomy and symptoms in order to better diagnose key health concerns, including the five gynaecological cancers (Source: Eve Appeal1).
With more than 21,000 women in the UK being diagnosed each year with gynaecological cancer, equating to 58 diagnoses each day (Source: Eve Appeal2), it is vitally important that women feel able to talk about gynaecological health in order to reduce the risk of delayed diagnosis and to enable them to have the best possible outcome.
Diagnosis can be delayed because a woman, or her doctor, doesn’t recognise her symptoms. The Eve Appeal has conducted a new study that reveals almost half of healthcare professionals believe that women may be putting their lives at risk due to a combination of embarrassment and/or poor knowledge of the correct terminology for their reproductive anatomy. The Eve Appeal is working to improve the patient/doctor conversation and have produced some Top Tips for talking with your GP about gynae issues.
These, which are reproduced from the Eve Appeal website below, include:-
- Knowing your menstrual cycle – periods are a crucial part of a gynae consultation. Know what is normal for you and what isn’t. If you are no longer having periods, have the date of your last one to hand
- Think about how symptoms are affecting your life and what you can do/can’t do because of them
- Know the name of your contraceptive pill, HRT and any other medication that you take regularly and remind yourself of how long you have been taking it for
- Don’t be afraid to say: Should I be examined? / I don’t mind being examined. Suggesting it can make for a better consultation and will signal to the GP that you understand that it may be needed and is not a problem for you
- Try to be clear in your own mind about when your symptoms started and include all of them. Timeline of symptoms is very important to a doctor when assessing what a condition could be
- Know when your last cervical screen was – your GP may not have a record if it was done elsewhere
- Ask for a female doctor if you prefer, or a double appointment if you think it will give you more time and comfort to open up. It is also fine to take someone to the appointment with you, if you feel it helps
- Get clued up on the right vocabulary to explain your problem. It can be difficult for your GP if you refer to your ‘bits’ or your ‘waterworks’
- Know when your doctor wants to follow up if things haven’t improved. Gynae symptoms that go on and on must be followed up, so ask your doctor when to book a review appointment
- If you can, think ahead about your appointment and what will make you feel more at ease. Don’t decline examination because you’ve not waxed, shaved or think your vulva doesn’t look ‘normal’ or any other reasons that you may feel are embarrassing. Healthcare professionals don’t notice and don’t mind and would always rather you have the examination or screening test you need
Stacey Anderson, Chartered Legal Executive in the Clinical Negligence team says “It is vital that diagnosis is made promptly and that women and doctors can talk openly, and meaningfully, about gynaecological health issues. The tips provided by The Eve Appeal are really useful and serve as a good reminder to use the limited time with your doctor as effectively as possible. We recognise that there will be women that have reported their symptoms to their doctor and that it may be that, despite that, the doctor has missed the signs of gynaecological cancer which has resulted in a delay in diagnosis. Having acted for women in relation to negligent treatment in gynaecological cancer cases, we have seen the devastating impact poor care can have on women and their families. If you have any concerns regarding care received and you wish to discuss those, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team who will talk through your concerns with you.”
Stacey can be contacted on Stacey.firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 01206 217047. To find more information about the work the Eve Appeal does, including access to their Ask Eve Information Service, and how to join in the #GetLippy campaign visit https://eveappeal.org.uk/