The Vagina: The most stigmatized health frontier

When will we be able to talk about vaginal health out loud? By definition, stigma is a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance or quality. Feeling labeled or defined by a health condition can be devastating. Women typically navigate discovery upon diagnosis when experiencing pelvic organ prolapse (POP); they often go months, sometimes years, with no clue what is causing the painful, awkward, or embarrassing symptoms occurring in their bodies. Physically incapacitating to varying degrees based on type and grade of severity, POP makes a mess out of nearly every aspect of women’s lives, dissecting family, intimate, fitness, and employment facets. POP stigma often generates feelings of:

  • Shame.
  • Distress.
  • Helplessness.
  • Anxiety.
  • Blame.
  • Hopelessness.
  •  Isolation.
  • Embarrassment.
  • Fear.

Life teaches us that the lessons that cause the greatest pain, whether physical or emotional, are the lessons that remain most firmly planted in our brains. I’ve had the great fortune to watch countless women come into the APOPS fold, devastated by what was occurring in their bodies, slowly morph into strong, empowered women in control upon capturing the information and support needed in their unique and very individual journeys to recapture health balance. I can’t begin to express the pride in womanhood I feel each and every time I see the transformation occur. Equally uplifting is watching women continue on in our space after capturing info to help themselves, choosing to stay in order to pay the support forward to additional women.

As we continue to move the needle forward, generating awareness, providing patient support and guidance, defining patient needs, clarifying misconceptions, and sharing insights with medical, academic, policy maker, and industry to enable advancement in POP tooling and treatment, we will spawn a new era in women’s vaginal health directives, talking out loud unabashedly about this last forbidden frontier. The vagina is after all, far more than a vessel of intimacy-it is a vessel of life. 

~Every Voice Matters~