Taboo or necessary sex talk?
Nestlé Live Well Virtual Health Fair addresses reproductive health issuesSunday, September 26, 2021
BY ROMARDO LYONS
TABOO sex talk is something medical officials believe is standing in the way of good health.
As part of Nestlé's first-ever 'Nestlé Live Well Virtual Health Fair', health officials shed light on some shunned, yet necessary, conversations surrounding sexual and reproductive health in Jamaica and the Caribbean as a whole.
Four areas of great concern were underscored through a series of events hosted by Nestlé. Dr Sara Grace Lawrence, gynaecologist and obstetrician, raised the issue of the unhealthy stereotypes around women visiting gynaecologists.
Lawrence explained that, in most cases, women seeking the expertise of said officials are believed to be affected by sexually transmitted infections (STIs), hormone disorders, and others.
“We're not only here for damage control when something is going wrong; we're here to promote women's wellness as whole. And that's what the whole drive is towards now. Culturally, in the Caribbean, in Jamaica, there is a little stigma, but we're coming together and trying to change the face of it and just really promote women's health rather than coming in when you're actually sick,” Lawrence shared.
“So what it is that we encourage is a part of your full wellness — mind, body and soul. [So we] have a genealogist on board so we can keep the relevant screenings current, keep up with your health, so when time comes for you to have a baby or do whatever you want to do in the future, you're at the optimal health capacity to do these things.”
Another troubling reality is that of the fear and stigma surrounding men seeing urologists — doctors who specialise in the study or treatment of the function and disorders of the urinary system. Dr Williams Aiken, consultant urologist, urged that this be discontinued.
“As you know, in Jamaica, and Caribbean in general, there's certainly a stigma in terms of one of the main things a urologist does in terms of the evaluation of men, and that's the infamous digital rectal examination, which is a critical part of the examination. That's the main method used to access the prostate using our gloved, lubricated index finger to examine the surface of the prostate and to determine the consistency and detect if any disease of the prostate is present,” said Aiken.
Aiken added: “We also do a blood test but the fear of the rectal exam is so profound that a lot of men defer or delay coming to see a urologist. Failing to get your prostate checked may cause your premature death — and I am being very serious.”
Alarmingly, women are usually blamed for infertility in relationships when, in most cases cases, men are at fault, Aiken added.
“Eighty-five per cent of couples who are having none-contraceptive sex over a period of a year will get pregnant. When a couple over that period fails to become pregnant… when fertility doesn't take place, in 25 per cent of cases it's due to a sole male factor. A male factor alone is responsible in a quarter of the cases. In another quarter of the cases a male factor contributes to the infertility. So overall, in 50 per cent of cases, the man is either wholly or partially responsible. So it is a definite myth to say that the woman is to be blamed.”
Moreover, Lawrence said trends, technologies and science have emerged to reduce the risk of infertility among women, but at a local level many couples who are trying to conceive turn a blind eye.
“Our success rates are very good; what we need to do is have the discussion. When you speak with your gynaecologist, your urologist, your general practitioner, if we see there is a problem, we go along and refer you. It may just be concentrating the sperm and putting it in. We may not need to take out the egg, take out the sperm, get it fertilised and put it in. There are many many different options,” she said, noting that fertility isn't final.
“The role of surrogacy… the role of adoption… knowing where you are and what you're willing to do and what your reality may end up being at the end of this journey. So knowing all of these options and all of these options are available in the Caribbean.”