Half of women in their twenties are suffering from irregular menstruation. How do you cope with it? Do you get information from your friends? Or do you ask a gynecologist for advice about your problem? Or do you just endure your pain? In the old days, obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN) clinics weren't considered to be for women in their 20s or unmarried women, and if you had gone there, you would have been shunned by others. Nowadays, however, they have become more familiar with women through the Internet and education programs. On the other side, there are women who still don't break the prejudice, so they just endure their problems or find other ways to satisfy their curiosity. Which kind of person are you?
OB/GYN, Now I Can Go there!
If you catch a cold, you would go to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor. Or if you have stomachache, you would be internally treated. Likewise, if you have a problem in your reproductive organs, you should go see a gynecologist. Although Koreans are taking full advantage of many other kinds or hospital, women couldn’t be close with OB/GYN. Moreover, they don’t see a reason for going to see a gynecologist after they have their first period. However, nowadays, it isn’t difficult to find young women in OB/GYN clinics. It is thanks to the widespread proliferation of awareness that women should manage their own health. Ahn (21) said, “I went to the maternity hospital recently. I was so surprised that many women my age were in the hospital, so it also made me comfortable. I think people take the women’s access to the hospital for granted.” The reasons for seeing a gynecologist are various. Young women visit the clinic because of the gynecological illnesses caused by irregular eating habits, immoderate diet, studying, and the stress from preparing to get a job, including the problems related to pregnancy. Also, the atmosphere to suggest the prevention and treatment between young women is spread naturally. Kim, ’10 School of English of SMU said, “Many friends of mine are suffering from menstrual irregularity. We are frank with the problem and confer how we treat and prevent it.” The expanding number of women doctors also allows women go to OB/GYNs comfortably. For example, the OB/GYN clinic endeavor to make women feel comfortable by making special booths to counsel young women and opening after 6 for women who have to go to school or work until 6. Moreover special clinics only for unmarried women are appearing. Sung (24) said, “My friend and I suggested to each other the clinics which are only for women’s university students. Also, when I went to the clinic, the staff at there introduced a woman doctor before I asked. It made me more comfortable.” Universities also give positive aid to vitalize the atmosphere. Many universities carry on campaigns to advertise examinations and have received a very positive response from students. Sookmyung Women’s University (SMU) makes the counseling booth with an OB/GYN clinic periodically to counsel students openly to be diagnosed in good time. Hwang, ’11 School of English, replied, “It was a good time that I could get some information about my body without visiting the hospital.” Also, the campaign to vaccinate students is popular. Han (25) said, “Recently, my friends have been vaccinated against cervical cancer because of the discounted price of the vaccine by the university.”1 Thanks to the atmosphere which has been made by many-sided of aid, women are opening her mind gradually.
However, Still I’m Afraid of...
Contrary to the kinds of women who see a gynecologist without any hesitation, quite a number of women still are agonizing alone. In a TV program, Chat with Beautiful Women*, they talked about the OB/GYN clinic. To the question “Are you uncomfortable seeing a gynecologist?”, all foreign women said “no,” but all Korean women said that they couldn’t go to the hospital comfortably. What was worse, a woman confessed her experience that the hospital staff hid her in another room because she was a young unmarried woman. Including them, in fact, according to the survey from the Internet site for women, miclub**, half of women in their 20s said that they had never seen a gynecologist. The top ranking reasons for not seeing a gynecologist periodically were “I am just afraid of it,” “I am ashamed of going there, ” and “The OB/GYN clinic is only for pregnant women.”2 Due to the efforts of sex education which was started recently, women in their twenties know about the importance of periodic gynecologic examination more than the older generation. Kim (21) said, “Actually, I learned that I should see a gynecologist after menarche when I was a high school student. However, it is a fact that people see the women who go to the maternity hospital negatively, and even my mother wondered why I would go there, so I couldn’t see a gynecologist without hesitation.” Once, the sexuality counseling booth was opened by one OB/GYN clinic as part of the Purple Ribbon Campaign. About four hundred women participated in the campaign, but more than 400 women kept aloof from the counseling. They just took the information book and read it carefully.3 It showed that women wonder about sexuality information, but they avoid to ask about it, because of shame and people’s eyes. For these reasons, there are many women who lack knowledge of their bodies. Choi (20) confessed, “The knowledge I got in high school is all I know about sex. If I have a problem about it, I just search in the Internet.” Like her, most of them find other solutions instead of seeing a gynecologist or expert to ask advice. That’s why there are perpetual postings about sexuality problems on the anonymous bulletin boards. Especially, there are many posting about contraception, sex, and the sign of pregnancy after sex. Park, school of English said, “The posts about knowledge of sex are put up on the anonymous bulletin board on university Internet sites.” Kim (23) said, “It is too uncomfortable to see a gynecologist, so I use the anonymous bulletin board more.” A woman university student said, “There isn’t an appropriate sex education course for young women in the university, so I just speak out my problem and solve it,” and she added, “however, in my opinion, women should see a gynecologist or expert to get some advice about their own body, because there is a lot of inaccurate information about sex.”4 Kim Kyung Tae, Hanyang Univ. Hospital chairman also advised, “After menarche, women need to see a gynecologist whether they get married or not. The attack rate of hysteropathy, especially cervical cancer, is increasing. If women avoid examinations, it would cause other diseases which could have been prevented.”
What Do You Need for You?
As above, the two kinds of attitude of women in 20s to OB/GYN are world apart. On the contrast, they have similarity that they want to keep themselves in good health and know the illness which they are suffering or have to prevent. What does make them different? First of all, Korean Women don’t have enough knowledge for their body. The knowledge of Women in 20s about sex is mostly from the education program of high school. However it is still criticized as improper education program, the course is going on with unclear sex education. Also, compared with the sex culture which is changing gradually, the level of the knowledge about sex is low. Park Noh Jun, the president of Korea OB/GYN Medical Association, said “There are no education course about sex for adult at all. It should be made, which are in-depth at the level of adult’s eyes.”5 Even the women who go to OB/GYN are so far from going to it with the accurate knowledge, just go with the trend or the wrong information. Koo, School of Clothing ’10, confessed, “Actually, there are no friend who know about the cervical cancer exactly. They just go to OB/GYN with the trend, women should take vaccination against the cervical cancer.” Ahn Sunghee, the member of The Association for Research on Contraception and Menstruation of Korea OB/GYN Medical Association said, “For the women’s health, women would better see a gynecologist and take medicine for an illness. However there are many women who have unclear information from others. There are many women who see a gynecologist because of contraception pill, for example. However it is not panacea, it also cause side effect because of hormone imbalance. Due to the unclear information, many women are misunderstanding.”6 Secondly, there are many eyes which treat unmarried women who go to OB/GYN a wanton hussy. According to the research with 3600 men and women in 13-30 years old interviewing by Korean Women’s Development Institute, just 22.6% of men and 22.7% of women said ‘people shouldn’t have pre-marital sex.’ Through the survey, we can read that the sex culture in Korea is opening now. However, most people think it is the dark culture and shade of society, so it should be hidden. The president, Park said, “The school in Korea held a biased sex education program, which are just about virginity and are not treating about sex or contraception that would be good for students actually. Nowadays, the problem because of the lack of information and concealment of sex, such as illegality pregnancy and artificial abortion, comes to the fore as a serious social issue. People should help the young keep their good health and life through the actual knowledge of sex and the proper point of view from the right sex education.”7 The improper point of view to sex make women suffer in the place where wouldn’t suggest the alternative or take their own right to care their health honorably. Before criticizing the women who don’t go to OB/GYN, people should change their mind to open about it.
To change the people’s view to OB/GYN, or take the right education about it, women should know their own body and take care of it. Actually, it is still alive the negative recognition to the unmarried women to go to OB/GYN. Despite the other’s recognition, going to OB/GYN need to have a strong courage. With this, you will take it easy. However, think about it.
Who can take care of me? It is me, myself. If you love yourself, you should see a gynecologist. It would be the key which change other’s recognition.
1 Lim Hong Gyu,「 Why do university students see a gynecologist?」, Sportsseoul, 2012.1
* the TV Show from KBS2 about the difference between foreign women and Korean
2 No Eunji,「Half of 20s haven’t seen a gynecologist at all」, Dailymedi, 2008.11.4
3 Lee Sang-mi,「There is a Saxuality counseling booth in the street!」, MKeconomi, 2010.10.5
4 Same as footnote 1
5 Park Soyeh,「We need the sex education at the level of adult’s eyes」, Newis, 2010.9.29
6 Hwang In Tae,「The contraceptive should use in emergency」, Medipana, 2012.3.12
7 Moon Taekyung,「A swearing-in ceremony for the proper contraception」, Mydaily, 2010.4.12