A new study commissioned by Priceline Pharmacy reveals that nearly half of all Australian women choose to Google their symptoms rather than discuss them with a GP. The reason? We are “too embarrassed to turn to a health professional.”
Dr Preeya Alexander, a GP and Pharmacy Health Expert, said that the top five ‘most embarrassing’ questions women are too scared to ask their GP include thrush, bloating, acne and period cramps.
Last month, she came out to advise women to book back-to-back consultations for those in the early stages of pregnancy, or those seeking mental health care plans or anyone with multiple issues to discuss.
‘It’s not just writing the script and “see ya later”- a single appointment is easily filled especially when we start doing ANY preventative health stuff,’ she said.
According to the study, women preferred to let their symptoms such as rashes and tingles worsen, since seeing a professional doctor to talk about it was “too awkward.”
38 percent of women surveyed experienced an uncomfortable condition for longer than necessary while 22 percent avoided seeking help altogether or refused to collect medicine from a pharmacy because they were too embarrassed.
Conditions that were seen as “too embarrassing to ask about” included acne, thrush, heavy periods, excessive sweating, bloating and constipation.
These conditions are unfortunately among the most common health issues women will experience throughout their lives.
Dr Alexander wants women to park their shame or fear to the side and go see a GP – don’t simply rely on Google!
“Any of us can suffer from thrush!” she told Body & Soul. “It’s incredibly common. 3 in 4 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!”
“When it comes to periods, what is ‘normal’ is actually a big spectrum,” she continued. “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.”
When it comes to vaginal discharge, Dr Alexander has similar advice.
“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 is another issue Dr Alexander believes shouldn’t be ignored.
“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 and skin issues are something we commonly see as health professionals,” she said. “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.”