It's tough being a woman. Period. It's especially tough to be a working woman that's going through some sort of sexual or reproductive issue. For one thing, we're not exactly encouraged to talk about our lady problems in public; that's what sites like WebMD and Reddit are for. We commiserate through online communities and sometimes with our friends, but we sure as heck don't talk enough about how our periods and pelvic pain and "pads or pantyliners?" affect our work life.
Until girl talk is more normalized in the workplace and there's actually such a thing as sick leave for girls on their periods, we'll just have to take advice from the Internet. Here are three ways to stay on top of your sexual and reproductive health when you're on that 9-5 grind.
1. Find a gynecologist you can trust.
It took me a long time trying to find a gyno I actually felt comfortable around. At first, I was referred to one by a family friend, and I was certain I’d have a positive experience with her. As it turns out, the gynecologist turned out to be super judge-y and not exactly the easiest to talk to, which ultimately led to me not disclosing all of my sexual history because I felt so ganged up on. My experience isn't uncommon: many men and women lie about their sexual history.
The reason it’s so important to find a health provider you trust and feel comfortable with is you don’t want to omit any of your health history out of fear of being judged. Plus, finding a great gynecologist is kind of like finding a great boss: you built a rapport with the person, and that makes your bond stronger, thus making the environment a more comfortable one to have difficult conversations in.
2. Don’t take aches and pains lightly.
Don’t be like Nick Miller from that show “New Girl” and avoid the doctor when you’re very obviously in pain. Yes, going to the doctor is scary (and sometimes expensive, depending on your financial sitch), but it's always worth it. It's better to be safe than sorry...and in pain.
For the working woman, it can be difficult to schedule in a visit to the doctor, especially when you work for someone else at a typical 9-5. Luckily, many places offer appointments before 9 in the morning, as well as Saturday appointments. It's super important to listen to what your body is telling you so you can feel your best both at home and in the workplace.
3. Talk, listen, and talk some more.
Talking about sexual and reproductive health will hopefully further normalize it in our society, and make it easier for women to discuss all the stuff we feel scared or embarrassed to talk about.
Now more than ever, women are taking to the web to facilitate conversations about women's health. Cycles + Sex is just one of them, but even Netflix stars like Ali Wong explore the contentious topic of speaking openly about women's issues that are considered "icky" to talk about openly. But by having these open conversations, we can make women's health more accessible, and hopefully get those off days for "that" time of the month. (Hey, some countries already offer this policy.)