#TalkingTaboos and women’s health

The Eve Appeal has led the national campaign to smash all the taboos that surround gynae health and stop women from recognising key signs and symptoms since 2014 – why not take a quick look at a brief history of Gynae Month?

This week, we held a taboo-busting event in support of Gynae Cancer Awareness Month, where we discussed the stigma that continues to surround women-specific health issues – from periods, to menopause and even what to call the female reproductive organs.

We were joined by a stellar line up of opinion-formers, experts and guests including; Dr Christian Jessen from Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies, BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour host Jane Garvey, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist, Professor Lesley Regan, media doctor and GP Dr Ellie Canon, FGM campaigner and social change activist Nimco Ali and Chair of the women’s health All-Party Parliamentary Group, Paula Sherriff MP.

It was a lively, informed and outspoken event, with a brilliantly engaged audience who were very keen to open up this discussion and to help us make real progress. As for the taboos – each of our panel members addressed their own observations and the topical issues surrounding women’s health. From Jane Garvey discussing the fact that we all need to keep on working to stop these taboos playing a part in our lives – especially around the role the wider media play – with the exception of Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour of course!

“There is something genuinely sad about that in the year 2017 when a woman thinks that it might be alright to say elbow, but you can’t say vagina on national radio. So let’s make sure that we keep working to stop these kind of taboos from making any part of our lives.” – Jane Garvey

Whilst the likes of Dr Ellie Cannon and Dr Christian Jessen spoke about the importance of being able to talk openly and freely about gynaecological health issues with their doctors – rather than hiding behind euphemisms, embarrassment and being more confident in seeing a beauty therapist to remove pubic hair than seeing a GP. Only by removing those barriers, does it allows us to get to the root of their health issues, without the need to second guess whether they’re talking about a gynae health issue related to their vulva or hiding behind very bad jokes about the Volvo parked out in the car park…..(really, not funny – and we’ve heard it far, far too many times).

First-hand stories were also on the agenda too with campaigner Nimco Ali sharing her obviously very personal and emotional experience of FGM. Her passion and commitment to make a significant change to women in the UK and beyond was applauded. Paula Sherriff MP who chairs the Women’s Health All-Party Parliamentary Group, also spoke about being fearless and passionate about helping women and the success of acing the Tampon Tax, which drew cheers from the audience.

All-in-all it was a fantastic event, and following a short Q&A – it confirmed to all of us at Eve and those who attended what we already knew, and all the evidence supports – having normal conversations about gynae issues is vital; opening up the conversation, getting rid of red faces and the euphemisms. Above all, it underscored our campaign objectives, that change can only happen if we get every woman to know their bodies, know what’s normal for them so that they can spot changes when they happen. So everyone – men and women – spread the message #KnowYourBody

There’s not a woman alive who isn’t aware of breast cancer and at least one of the key signs – and ultimately that’s where we want the gynae cancers to be.

We filmed the panel debate on the night – so if you couldn’t attend and wanted to catch up with the many intriguing conversations, please watch our video below: