Almost every second Frenchman finds it difficult to rely on his intimate health

STI, abortion, endometriosis: Almost every second woman finds it difficult to rely on her intimate health

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With summer — namely, the time of year most conducive to a more active sex life — finally coming to an end, it’s an alarming situation that the latest YouGov Institute study finds for Livi. These discussions with a group of women aged 18 to 54 on sexual health taboos show that many French women are still reluctant to discuss certain issues, either with those around them or with health professionals.

In recent years we have witnessed several movements aimed at freeing women’s voices. If MeToo has allowed many of them to speak out about the sexual assaults they have been victims of, the speeches aimed at making women feel guilty and denouncing the workings of a patriarchal society that forces them to remain silent are gradually emerging belongs to the public square. But the conscience still needs to be educated. The proof with the Livi and YouGov Institute study on taboos around women’s sexual health. On March 2nd, 2022, 453 French women between the ages of 18 and 54 were interviewed on this subject and the results – subsequently analyzed and commented on by Dr. Maxime Cauterman, specialist in public health and social medicine and medical director at Livi – prove that many ideas still have to be deconstructed…

STIs and STDs, the big taboo

When it comes to intimate health taboos, one topic tops the list: STIs. For 24% of the women surveyed in the YouGov Institute study, sexually transmitted infections are the biggest taboo. Among 34 to 54 year olds, the share rises to 29%. Generation gap or not, the observation is there: While STI cases increased by 30% in 2020 and 2021, according to Dr. Cauterman points out, many women are reluctant to talk about it. As a reminder, the Ameli website has identified the 8 most common STIs: syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, which can be cured if treated, while viral STIs such as hepatitis B, genital herpes, HIV and human papillomavirus are “Je difficult or even impossible to cure depending on the type of virus”. Chlamydia infections primarily affect young women. All of this is essentially the result of not using a condom.

In France, sexually transmitted diseases are increasing, especially among young people aged 15 to 24, since the Covid health crisis, as Dr. Christian Recchia warns in “Carnet de Santé” for Yahoo.

for dr Maxime Cauterman “it is necessary to multiply the screening channels because the choice between your treating doctor, a Cegidd, a teleconsultation, a ‘laboratory without ordo’ or a self-test is crucial to the transition to It is It is also necessary to maintain collective vigilance and efforts to prevent and screen for HIV, particularly among the youngest and certain risk groups.In 2020, screening for the disease fell by 14%. The decline mainly affects people between the ages of 30 and 45. For a number of years we have been talking about a ‘hidden epidemic’, where a significant proportion of those infected are either unaware or untreated and are therefore at greater risk of transmitting the virus.”

The situation is therefore more than urgent and alarming. But why then are we seeing such distrust about STIs? Perhaps answers can be found in the prejudices surrounding them. Therefore, when you talk about sexually transmitted infections you suffer from, you are talking about your sex life. And therefore expose themselves to judgments which in turn are based on archaic ideas when it comes to women. The myth of the “bitch” with multiple partners has tough skin. However, it’s hard to say that men are more trusting of STDs.

However, the taboo surrounding STIs leads to another insidious consequence: misinformation and late diagnosis. Because, as the YouGov Institute emphasizes, “although a free HIV test came into force in France at the beginning of the year, this is not yet the case for STIs, which can also represent a brake on counseling.”

Intimate health: behind modesty fear of court?

46% is the percentage of women surveyed who say they find it difficult to rely on their intimate health. Almost every second Frenchman. A figure that is not surprising if we consider various phenomena. According to a previous Ifop study for Qare, presented in January 2022, 60% of women have already given up an appointment with a gynaecologist. While 23% of mothers surveyed say they are giving up this care to take care of the health of others and 43% say they don’t have time, 33% of young people surveyed said they were uncomfortable with their bodies , while 31% of 18-24 year olds say they have never seen a gynaecologist. Several young women also detailed the reasons for dropping out of treatment after a traumatic exchange with a professional for Yahoo.

Yes, the reasons for women’s uneasiness at the idea of ​​speaking out about their intimate health are varied and can often stem from a fear of judgment. But Dr. Maxime Cauterman sounds the alarm: “The treating doctor is the preferred contact person, but I also noticed that being too close was not always easy to tackle these issues. Therefore, I am convinced that e-health services play their role.” Teleconsultation as a shield against fear of court? At least 47% of the women interviewed choose this option.

Abortion is still taboo for many young women

The study, conducted by Livi and the YouGov Institute, reveals another major taboo for the younger generation: abortion. Among 18 to 34 year olds, 23% of French women interviewed hesitate to talk about this topic. A number that is mainly explained by the fear of judgment. The image of the female mother is still sacred today. And this despite the many voices that are being raised to deconstruct the archaic notions that a woman’s only destiny is to become a mother.

Video. Chloé Chaudet (“I have chosen not to be a mother”): “One can regret being a mother”

“The promulgation of the veil law on abortion rights is 47 years old. Despite everything, the fear of raising such sensitive issues and being judged is still very present among the younger generations. And even after making a mature decision, many women can become pensive.” Feeling different forms of post-abortion distress. This is particularly related to our value system and social pressures,” stresses Dr. Maxime Cauterman, who recalls that in 2020, 222,000 abortions were recorded in France. .

Here, too, this great taboo surrounding abortion is finding a very special echo these days. In the United States, the Supreme Court’s decision to rule in Roe v. Wade, which had guaranteed freedom of choice for American women who want an abortion, because of how fragile that right is. In France, on February 23, 2022, the National Assembly approved the bill extending the legal deadline for resorting to voluntary abortion, from 12 to 14 weeks.

However, many women are confronted with psychological stress. Because alongside the fear of judgment, there is the loneliness that some can find themselves in. For this reason, Dr. Maxime Cauterman: “Public authorities must commit to training more health workers, improving the conditions of access and acceptance of abortion, supporting women according to their needs young women and finally the fight against disinformation.

Endometriosis is becoming more visible… but still ignored by some

Further proof that there is still a long way to go is endometriosis, which ranks Livi as the 4th biggest taboo in sexual health according to the YouGov poll. 18% of women aged 34-54 cite it as the second biggest sexual taboo. Long lost in the midst of a vast medical desert, endometriosis is still struggling not only to be considered by health authorities, but also, and most importantly, to be diagnosed. This chronic and debilitating gynecological disease was only officially and concretely addressed by the state’s high authorities in January 2022. The Ministry of Health has committed to investing 30 million euros over five years in research, diagnostics and access to care, but also in communication and awareness.

Video. Enora Malagré: “The most embarrassing thing about this disease is that you feel like you can smell blood”

One of the main symptoms of endometriosis is particularly painful abdominal pain during menstruation. This particular point may explain the taboo nature of endometriosis among women surveyed by YouGov. In a patriarchal society, they grow up with the idea that the menstrual cycle should not be discussed in society. You have to hide when you’re on your period, and that often involves language elements or well-developed strategies. It is therefore difficult to talk to those around you about the abnormal pain of your period and thus about endometriosis when the topic is so barricaded with taboos. So much so that the Omerta even had a direct impact on the medical world, as many healthcare professionals often struggle to diagnose endometriosis.

But it’s progressing step by step. “For years, endometriosis has been misunderstood and often underdiagnosed. But women’s voices on this issue are becoming more and more free. Today, the increasing spread of testimonials on social networks and statements by public figures encourage women to seek counseling. Maxime Cauterman, for whom it is also “essential to raise awareness among health professionals through training systems”.

Also read:

>> STIs, HIV and screening: 5 myths deconstructed by an expert

>> “I left the practice in tears”: traumatized by gynecologists, they say

>> Let’s stop hiding our rules. Talking about it means fighting the taboo

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