Sexual health series: Reproductive issues in women
I am no medical advice giver or doctor, this series is intended to give a basic understanding of various topics in regards to sexual health.
These topics can be triggering for some readers as they may discuss sexual violence, please proceed with caution.
Reproductive issues in women are common, as of 2019, Women’s Health found that in the United States, about 10% (6.1 million) of women between 15 and 44 years old have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant.
Growing up and still to this day, many women and girls don’t have the opportunity of checking in with medical care. In Canada, the Pap smear is recommmended to get once a year, and verifies, from a sample of cells on the cervix, if there are any abnormalities and to check for cervical cancer in women.
General list of reproductive issues
Endometriosis impacts the woman’s uterus directly. The tissue is “misplaced” and can lead to issues such as pain in the lower abdomen, infertility and heavier periods, however, symptoms are not found in every woman, which means that many only find out they have endometriosis when they try to get pregnant.
Most common noncancerous tumours for women in childbearing age. Some women hold no symptoms, while others may have heavy periods, bleeding between periods, urinating often, pain during sex, infertility and more.
Abnormal growth of cells around the uterus that can be non-tumorous and can become cancerous, this can only be confirmed by a pap smear.
GC stands for any cancer that may appear in the reproductive organ of the woman.
These cancers take place in several areas. There is the Cervical cancer located in the cervix, the Ovarian cancer located in the ovaries, the Uterine cancer starts in the uterus but involves the organ where the baby grows, the Vaginal cancer starts in the vagina and the Vulvar cancer begins in the vulva.
It is important to know your HIV status as HIV can be spread through breast milk. It is possible for women with HIV to have children safe from the risk, however, it is essential for parents in general to know their sexual health status and to ensure they are taking the necessary precautions to not spread it to their newborn.
Pelvic Floor Prolapse
This is a disorder that occurs when various organs over the pelvic floor (such as the bladder, rectum, vagina, etc.) fall from their normal region and push against the walls of the vagina.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is common and occurs when the ovaries produce more of male hormones than average.
IC is a bladder disorder that can impact both men and women, however, that are more common in women.
Infertility and BIPOC women
Infertility impacts 1 in 8 women, however, due to systemic racism in North America, BIPOC women experience a lot higher infertility rates, and are less capable of accessing the necessary treatment.
“Black women are three times as likely to have fribroids than white women when adjusted for other confounding factors.”
Nevertheless, statistics and information is not found easily in the regards of fertility rates and the medical response provided as medicine has had a problematic and troubling history in regards to the treatment of BIPOC folks.
“Medicine, including the field of obstetrics and gynecology, has engaged in practices that were very harmful to women of color”, and this could have very easily contributed to the existing disparities today.
Black women today are two times more likely to experience infertility, as found in the Infertility and Impaired Fecundity in the United States report.
Black women at childbearing age have a lack of access to health care, including education, which strongly impacts how long it takes before they tend to seek medical assistance for infertility. Due to the ongoing issues in the medical field today, black women tend to avoid going to seek help.
In the Women’s Health magazine survey, “black women were more than 50 percent more likely than women to say they felt uncomfortable talking to their doctors about fertility.”
As Desirée McCarthy-Keith states, “there is an ongoing mistrust of the medical system” due to various incidents that have, for example, “deprived Black men with syphilis of the appropriate medical care for years without their knowledge.”
In Canada, hospitals continue to treat Indigenous folks with bias. Cases against forced sterilization of Indigenous women are still being brought up to this day. These cases had situations in which women were getting their fallopian tubes cut without their consent or were being pressured to sign consent forms under threat.
This troubling history of the medical fertility care of Indigenous women explains the ways in which ongoing mistrust can exist to this day.
Other difficulties in Canada include but are not limited to, reserves being located far from hospitals, making healthcare inaccessible.