Mummy Conversations: Normalising conversations about intimate health

Intimate health. It’s one of those topics that many people shy away from. When it comes to worries about our own bodies, we can be embarrassed to talk about it or seek information or pass on the knowledge that we do have to our own children. I was recently contacted by Canesten® to be part of their Mummy Conversations campaign.  This campaign aims to help normalise conversations about intimate health and to empower women to feel more comfortable about their own bodies and more confident about discussing intimate health with their children.

A mother and daughter walking together: Mummy Conversations - Normalising conversations about intimate health

The feeling of embarrassment when it comes to discussing intimate health is certainly something I can relate to.  As a teenager growing up, it wasn’t a topic I could comfortably discuss with my mum. Most of what I learned about intimate health was through school or reading leaflets from the doctor’s surgery. I don’t remember any conversations with my mum on this.

 

It wasn’t until I reached my twenties that I became more confident about my own body and felt less embarrassed about discussing intimate health.  Being a student midwife helped with this – those kinds of discussions that I would have shied away from as a teen were now part of everyday conversations. What had once been something that I would have been embarrassed to talk about was now something I could talk about quite normally and naturally. It was liberating.

 

Thankfully, I don’t remember having any concerns during those years when I would have been quite embarrassed to seek advice. Yeast infections, such as thrush, are very common though. Around 75% of women will get thrush at least once in their lives. I can imagine how worrying it would be though for a young girl to have thrush, not knowing anything about it and to try to figure out what was wrong by herself due to being too embarrassed to discuss it with anyone.

 

Being able to normalise intimate conversations helped me to become better informed and more aware, but it also helped to me to feel more comfortable with my own body. Canesten® believe that if you are more comfortable with your body, you are more able to reach your full potential. I certainly found it very liberating.

 

I hope that my daughters will also grow up being comfortable and confident with their own bodies.  At 5 and 3, they are a little young as yet for me to be able to have much of a conversation about intimate health with them. Any discussions so far have mostly been part of potty training, for example making sure they learn which way to wipe and the importance of wearing clean knickers.  As they get older, I will teach them a little more here and there as other pieces of information become relevant.  Being open about intimate health will also make it easier to discuss personal boundaries and consent – and I hope will help ensure that my girls will feel able to come to me if they have any concerns relating to the more intimate areas of their bodies.

 

What do you think is the right age to begin discussing intimate health with our children? Let me know and you could be in with a chance to win a £100 Amazon gift voucher which Canesten are kindly offering to give to one of my readers. You can enter using the Gleam widget below. Terms and conditions are as follows:

  1. There is 1 prize of one £100 Amazon voucher. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
  2. Open to UK residents aged 18 and over, excluding employees and relatives of Little Hearts, Big Love and Bayer plc.
  3. Closing date for entries is 23:59 on 30/12/16.
  4. Entrants must log into Gleam and leave a comment.
  5. Optional entry methods are to follow on Twitter and Facebook, tweet on Twitter and visit the chosen web page.
  6. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
  7. The winner will be informed within 14 days of the closing date and will need to respond with a postal address within 28 days or a new winner will be chosen.
  8. The winner’s name will be available on request.
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  10. This is a joint promotion between Little Hearts, Big Love and Canesten®
  11. Entry to this confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.

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This post has been supported by Canesten® but all thoughts are my own.

 

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32 Comments

  1. December 13, 2016 / 7:39 am

    Well I grew up in a strict and conservative Catholic family where body matters were not discussed which meant I had no idea about a lot of things or the wrong idea…
    We’re very open and honest and have been from the start. Proper names for body parts, simple and age appropriate discussions – like when my five year old asked how her brother would get out of my pregnant tummy? And making sure they know they can always come and ask us questions or seek help about body issues. My daughter has started sex Ed at school but we’ve already had discussions and chats so she’s aware.

  2. December 13, 2016 / 8:43 am

    Hmmm this is tricky. I have 2 boys so there’s only so much I can tell them as I have no personal experience of what really goes on down there, that talk can be a job for their dad! I do want them to know they can talk to me about anything though and I will do my best to help. My 3 year old asked where his baby brother came from and I must admit I didn’t tell him the truth..I didn’t exactly lie though I just said the midwife got him out!xx #twinklyTuesday

  3. December 13, 2016 / 8:45 am

    My youngest is 9 and we have briefly discussed intimate things/health but with my teen who’s 14 we can talk about anything….We have been discussing periods and intimate health since she was about 11. I think the earlier you start discussing things like this the easier it is…..I don’t think there is a right age as such. I think it’s when your child is mature enough to understand and listen….

  4. Helen Moulden
    December 13, 2016 / 6:03 pm

    I think around the age of 9/10. Purely because that’s when I remember my mother talking to me.

  5. chantelle hazelden
    December 13, 2016 / 6:41 pm

    I’d say around 10, you want them to be old enough to understand exactly what you are telling them.

  6. Pauline jaconelli
    December 13, 2016 / 7:06 pm

    From as early as possible. It’s really important to teach them as being or turning into a teenager is hard! Knowing it happens to most people is more comforting and makes you fee less weird and embarrassed

  7. December 13, 2016 / 7:06 pm

    I remember as a kid the doctor once asking my mum if I had thrush. I hadn’t got a clue what it was. Then from 18 to 29 I struggled with a condition called lichen Sclerosis, and literally just kept thinking I was having outbreaks of thrush, because I still didn’t really know what it was. It wasn’t until this year, when I had a lot of trouble with my episiotomy scar and got referred to a gynaecologist (after many doctors had seen my vagina!!) that I was diagnosed.

    I suspect this mean’s I will speak to my daughter quite young. But generally I’d say when you have the period conversation.
    8?!

  8. December 13, 2016 / 8:14 pm

    I think any age really. My daughter is 3 and we’ve started talking about the importance of female hygiene with her. Age appropriate of course! I do appreciate it is more difficult as they get older.

  9. Emily OMara
    December 13, 2016 / 9:00 pm

    i guess it depends what it is about, but the younger the better. the younger you can get them to open up and stay open the better

  10. December 13, 2016 / 9:16 pm

    I reckon round the age of 10/11 as that’s when my mum was discussing these topics with me xx

  11. Spencer Broadley
    December 14, 2016 / 8:01 am

    About 10 for intimate things just as they are approaching puberty, but you can increase what you talk about as they hit their teens

    • Jennifer Bruce
      December 14, 2016 / 3:21 pm

      Completely agree with this, increasing knowledge as they get older x

  12. William Gould
    December 14, 2016 / 9:33 am

    It depends on the child. H was a very late developer. She loved playing with a bucket and spade on the beach when she was 15, while her friends were laying around posing in bikinis! My wife says she wasn’t the slightest bit interested in body matters, but started talks with her in her very early teens.

  13. Peter Watson
    December 14, 2016 / 10:04 am

    As soon as possible.Early intervention stops a lot of the problems from happening,like contraception

  14. Annabel Greaves
    December 14, 2016 / 10:45 am

    I think it is important by the time they are about to start secondary school as they will come across these issues then

  15. Tony Metcalfe
    December 14, 2016 / 12:07 pm

    I’d say around the age of 10/11 as that’s when they should have some sort of understanding about the subject.

  16. Sharon Jackson
    December 14, 2016 / 12:16 pm

    My daughters age 16 & 11 have always been brought up with the knowledge that it’s important to have good personal hygiene. They’ve never known any different It’s something they learned along the way. I would say as early as you can.

    • Sharon Jackson
      December 14, 2016 / 12:22 pm

      Oops, I should wear my glasses more often lol, intimate health my daughters seemed to know more than I thought at quite an early age. They would ask me questions & I would answer them in a way they understood the importance.

  17. Rebecca Smith
    December 14, 2016 / 12:19 pm

    I think it is totally dependent on the child of course but as early as possible when they can understand

  18. Lynsey Buchanan
    December 14, 2016 / 2:23 pm

    I think the earlier the better so maybe about 7/8 would be a goof age to talk about intimate health with our children. Knowledge is power and having the information they need will enable them to make em-formed decisions.

  19. Jennifer Bruce
    December 14, 2016 / 3:20 pm

    For me, personally, it will be at 9. I understand this is different for each family and whatever is right for you, then you should do it

  20. Alana Walker
    December 18, 2016 / 12:15 pm

    Probably at about 10 or 11 just before they go to secondary school or reach puberty. Its important as they should not feel scared about talking about such things.

  21. December 18, 2016 / 1:01 pm

    I think it’s important from an early age, i always tell my daughter who is 8 for example to wash herself properly and as she grows i’m sure we’ll discuss other intimate things, it’s about age i guess.

  22. Chrissie Curtis
    December 19, 2016 / 2:45 am

    The Basics from around 10 depending on the child but especially before secondary school so they don’t feel confused, left out or embarrassed. It’s important to be honest and discuss it in such a way they feel comfortable and not force the conversation.

  23. Amanda tanner
    December 20, 2016 / 12:54 am

    I think its down to the maturity of your child. Each cool is different. Discuss when you feel its the right time

  24. hannah wood
    December 29, 2016 / 12:16 am

    Around 8- 10 years I would say .x

  25. Ender
    December 29, 2016 / 10:16 am

    Just don’t wait until 12, when they already should pretty much know how things should work.

  26. December 29, 2016 / 1:54 pm

    My daughters are 6 and 2 and already we have the talk about personal hygiene. The need to get washed properly when they’re in the bath etc. My 6 year old gets water infections when we use certain bubbles or bath bombs etc so we had to have the conversation about some issues quite early on.

  27. G Clark Hellery
    December 29, 2016 / 7:08 pm

    I think ‘normalising’ the human body as early as possible will hopefully ease some embarrassment later, and I hope I can talk to my daughter, building up her knowledge & body confidence as we go. Of course, I’m friends with nurses so the Lambs heard it all already!

  28. Donna Jones
    December 29, 2016 / 8:55 pm

    I am honest with L. She calls intimate parts by their real names and not cute versions because if someone was to touch her inappropriately then her saying it to a teacher would be raising the alarm; whereas if you called it ‘foo foo’ and she said ‘xxx touched my foo foo’ you wouldn’t think twice about probing. Just today she asked about how babies were made and how they are born. Although she has watched one born every minute with me so she is aware. She’s adamant she wants a natural birth and she’s only 5! I think there is making them grow up by telling them things beyond their years and there is telling them a version that is appropriate for their ages. I will always be honest with her as much as I think she can handle. She knows mummy has periods because she doesn’t have babies and it’s apart of being a grown up and I try to make her aware of medications so if I had thrush (usually following antibiotics) I will explain to her what that medication is for. I think it strengthens bonds between mothers and daughters and hopefully when she is a lot older she will come to me for contraception advice, sex, intimate health worries and everything.

  29. SarahQ
    December 30, 2016 / 12:41 am

    I have three little boys and I simply answer honestly and age appropriately. As they grow up I am sure that they will naturally turn to their Dad for more of their personal issues, but I want them to feel comfortable to be open about anything with me, be it health, sex or anything. I also feel strongly that they should be comfortable about female issues too – periods, puberty, female body image, sexualisation in the media etc.

  30. December 30, 2016 / 8:41 pm

    It depends on the child, I have always answered body questions honestly. 7-8 is a good age to start going into more detail

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