Gender identity, sexual orientation, sex education, google searches, self-care & birth control – what does the community think?
PART ONE: GREECE
Between March 2020 (the very beginnings of the concept of omgyno) and June 2021, we engaged with over 300 women* to ask them about their relationship with their sexual health; taking into account how they take care of themselves and how they interact with gynecologists and healthcare experts. In this part one of disseminating the survey results, we focus on those living in Greece between the ages of 19 to 64, out of which 23% are expats from various countries.
1.Gender Identity & Sexual Orientation
Sexual health begins with how we identify ourselves, and how society perceives us. Being comfortable with expressing our sexual orientation and gender identity is key to establishing our needs but also addressing the needs of others. In the healthcare system, especially in gynecology, heterosexuality is implied and taken for granted in many traditional countries. However, acknowledging the existence of other groups helps in establishing a norm that allows for doctors not to assume a sexual orientation or gender identity at first glance, and most importantly not to make patients feel judged for their behaviour. Let’s empower all people by always asking before assuming, and legitimizing a more inclusive attitude toward sexual health. In our survey we found that 2 out of 10 people are part of the LGBTQ community, and one out of 10 does not identify as cisgender, meaning although they were born as female, they perceive themselves with a more gender fluid identity.
2. Sex Education
Although there are established laws in most EU countries to provide sex education in school, it often falls in the hands of the teachers themselves and their level of comfort or ability to discuss sexual matters. In our survey, it is clear that almost no student in greece receives a proper sex education in school. Apart from all the societal problems this causes for all genders, there is a clear relationship established between sex education and gender equality. One report by UNESCO also further explains how this affects overall female empowerment, beyond matters of consent or early pregnancy and STI prevention.
3. Google Searches on Sexual Matters
Although there are many reliable sources for information on the internet, medical experts strongly advise not to self-diagnose based on online symptom checkers. According to recent surveys, this almost always leads to misdiagnosis and unnecessary anxiety for non-existent conditions. Depending on the internet for the sake of time efficiency is understandable and even necessary at times, this is why omgyno is building a community of like-minded doctors and experts who are offering telehealth services. These are online consultations which can be quick 15 minute calls to ask a simple question or to reassure yourself if you are worried about symptoms, or a full consultation session with prescriptions and support in healthcare procedures.
4. Top 5 Ways That You Practice Self-care With Your Sexual Health
We asked people to rate the six statements above according to their priorities. The first two statements were almost on the same level. This shows a deep understanding and awareness in the community that self-care is a balance of being in tune with your body and reaching out to professional help for consultations. It is also quite interesting that most prioritize hygiene over information and pleasure. Should we discuss how our society emphasizes so much on “cleaning” our vulvas and vaginas even though most gynecologists insist that this part of our bodies does a very good job at cleaning itself? Are we, as women, a bit too concerned about smells, hairs, discharge, and period blood? We would love to read your comments on this.
5. Most Common Birth Control Methods
Based on our survey, the majority of people are not using regular birth control, but instead relying on the “pulling out” method or the Rhythm method, which takes into consideration fertile periods and the menstrual cycle. This might be due to the fact that many of those who took the survey are in stable monogamous relationships. We also found out that hormonal contraceptives like the birth control pill (usually containing estrogen and progestin) are not very popular. Condoms remain the first and most reliable method, mostly to ensure that no STI’s are contracted.
6. If you haven’t yet, are you planning to give birth in the future?
This subject is quite controversial amongst young women nowadays, many people in the survey complain about gynecologists pushing them to get pregnant because of their age. The majority either don’t know, don’t want to be asked, or are not considering childbirth altogether. Only 3 out of 10 women seem determined to give birth. Considering where we are in terms of gender equality and equal working rights and pay, it is a wonder that many health experts push childbirth by using fear tactics of potential infertility, without taking into consideration so many other factors. Those who are living in comfortable financial situations, and have family or other forms of support for childcare are privileged and can make these decisions more easily. Many women refuse to be seen in society as reproductive machines and want to lead fulfilling and successful lives; and bullying them into having babies without offering state-funded maternity leave or childcare support is unfair. Equality means that the person who has the biological ability to create life, should be rewarded with support and time, but instead we live in a world where women are judged for not wanting children, but also punished for having them, making it less likely for them to access well-paid career paths.
*women: a general term we use for all those born with a female reproductive system, taking into consideration that many belong to a wider spectrum of gender identities.
Would you like to take the survey and play a role in helping us understand our community better? Take the survey here.
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