On 14th April, Ponton Group of Sex Educators organized a press conference in order to present results of the latest survey concerning reproductive health services (the quality of gynecological care) conducted during the campaign “Safe Chair? Campaign for a good gynecological care”. Ponton conducted an online survey to discover the experience and identify expectations of all girls and women: those who regularly have gynecological consultations, those who have had it once and those who haven't had any yet. 2501 girls and women filled the survey, including LBTQ persons and persons with disabilities.
The results are worrisome as they prove that women, especially young girls, and LBTQ persons experience unprofessional and harmful treatment from the gynecologists.
1/4 of girls and women treat gynecological visit as ‘necessary evil’ and 16% of respondents avoid visits. The reason for this is embarrassment and lack of awareness about caring for one’s sexual and reproductive health. Comprehensive sexuality education still hasn’t been introduced in Polish schools and sexuality (even in its health aspect) remains a taboo. These factors combined with traumatic experiences during gynecological visits result in the negligence of prophylaxis.
Girls and women hear judgmental statements and opinions from gynecologists, which express lack of empathy, professional approach, gender stereotypes, homophobia and transphobia. Doctors comment on decisions concerning patients’ private lives and instead of a diagnosis, they provide judgments based on their personal values. Furthermore, women (especially young girls) are refused contraception and access to diagnostic tests due to gynecologists’ personal views, based on prejudices.
What is also alarming, 1/3 girls and women haven’t been to the visit yet because of the deeply rooted fear of shame. They are scared of negative comments from the doctor and treat the visit as intrusion of the intimacy. If they had received the proper information and support earlier, these women wouldn’t have avoided the visits and instead, they would have treated the gynecological visit as a means of caring for their reproductive and sexual health. In order to improve this situation, decision-makers need to introduce a non-biased, science-based comprehensive sexuality education to schools, which would raise knowledge and awareness of sexual and reproductive health. The system of gynecologists’ education needs to be improved as the needs of young patients, LBTQ patients and patients with disabilities must be accommodated in the gynecologists’ training programmes.