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Health A to Z

Stop The Hush-Hush: Time To End The Societal Stigma Around Women’s Health

Binish Ahmed

Raising awareness about these stigmas is the first step towards improving women’s health.

Our country takes pride in its deep sense of culture and tradition. However, we are still far behind when it comes to the dissolution of social taboos that still hold our women back. A lot of these social prohibitions even prevent the womenfolk to openly talk about their health concerns or get the required medical attention.

Thus raising awareness about these stigmas is the first step towards improving women’s health. Following are the key stages in a woman’s life where her body undergoes changes but the society imposes her to stay silent and the reason why we need to put a stop to it.

When she gets her first period

In many Indian households, a girl’s first period is meant to be swept under the rug. Her transition into womanhood is often a hush-hush affair. She is made to believe that severe cramps during bleeding are a part and parcel of the menstrual cycle. While it’s normal to have pain but bad menstrual cramps can signal serious problems like ovarian cysts, fibroids, or endometriosis. Sadly, a lot of these health risks end up going unnoticed due to the unnatural sense of shame attached to a girl’s puberty and an expert never gets to come into the picture.

When her body hits puberty

A lot of changes happen to the female body when she hits puberty. The change is abrupt and a lot of girls feel self-conscious and embarrassed about their bodies. Body hair, acne, increase in breast and hip size are physical changes that a girl experiences during puberty. This transition phase can meddle with a girl’s emotional and mental health. Rather than being covert about it, parents should take the help of a counsellor who can help their daughter deal with these confusing times.

When she has a hormonal imbalance

The 20s are times filled with adventures, opportunities, stress and more changes. When there’s so much going on in a woman’s life, there is bound to be hormonal fluctuations in her body. The instability of the hormones can take a toll on a woman’s physical and emotional health. And the surprising fact is that she never seeks an expert opinion for her troubles. Why? Because society tells her so:

When she deals with pimples, she is told that it is ‘normal at this age.‘ She is advised to go for a dozen herbal remedies and cosmetic products but a dermatologist is never consulted.

When she gains weight, she’s asked to ‘stop eating’ or ‘join a gym,’ but a doctor is never consulted to rule out potential health risks.

And all of this happens behind closed doors.

When she gives birth

It is said that being a new mother is a joyous event that makes a woman’s life purposeful. But this idea of motherhood isn’t the same for all women. A lot of mothers suffer from a condition called postpartum depression, the existence of which is often denied. This mood disorder is caused by physical and emotional factors and results in irritability, despair, sadness and anxiety. But none of that is paid heed to because a woman is expected to be just a doting mother and the rest is background noise.

When she develops unwanted diseases

A lot of health conditions can be avoided if they are detected earlier. But in our country, thanks to the hushing tradition, women in their 40s and 50s still feel embarrassed to go for a health checkup. In fact, a recent study suggested that 75% of Indian women are shy of getting breast screenings. The same applies for not seeing a doctor when the early signs of arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis and menopause appear. And why not? A little pain is normal when you have so much work.

The women of today must possess the confidence and freedom to choose what they may do with their personal and professional lives. They are the backbones of families, communities and countries. When they are educated and healthy, the entire society benefits. 

Please speak to an expert for any health concern that society wants you to believe is ‘normal’ when it’s not! So, enough with the hush-hush. Take your health in your own hands and download the mfine app today to get quality care at your fingertips.

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