Lots of British women believe they can get gynaecological cancers by being sexually promiscuous - but that just isn't true. At all.
Cancer research charity The Eve Appeal has released new statistics highlighting the fact that one in five women associate gynaecological cancers with sexual promiscuity, while almost 40% feel that it comes with a greater stigma than other forms of cancer.
This month is Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month and to mark this, The Eve Appeal are hoping to get more women talking about the symptoms of the disease, and to raise awareness of how to spot it sooner – and that includes clearing up these misconceptions.
Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding gynaecological cancer means a quarter of women are avoiding going to their GP because they’re afraid of being judged on their sexual history. It’s a common misconception that HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) causes these types of cancer, but actually there is no known link between STDs and ovarian or womb cancer (which are the two most common gynaecological cancers, FYI).
Dr Tracie Miles, gynaecology cancer nurse specialist and spokesperson for The Eve Appeal says,’Younger women often think it’s the older generation who get cancer, and are often embarrassed about seeing their GP to talk about concerns they have about their ‘bits’. They’d rather go to ‘Dr Google’ and talk to their friends.’
A causal link does exist between some forms of gynaecological cancer and the sexually transmitted High Risk Human Papilloma Virus (HRHPV), but the virus is widely considered a normal consequence of sex because it’s so common. So common, in fact, that 80 per cent of people will contract a form of HPV in their lifetime, including those who have only had one sexual partner – meaning the number of people you may or may not be sleeping with has absolutely nothing to do with it.
The earlier any form of cancer is caught, the higher the survival rate, so our reluctance to seek medical help could cost us our lives. Dr Adeola Olaitan, Consultant Gynaecological Oncologist at UCL Hospital says, ‘It’s shocking that so many women are avoiding seeking help for gynaecological health problems for fear of being judged on their sexual behaviour.
‘It is a proven fact that early diagnosis of women’s cancers can save lives, so it’s important that we all start having honest conversations about the signs and symptoms of these diseases in order to break down the social taboos and any embarrassment that currently exist.’