Sexual health is still very much a taboo subject in most Muslim households as we are never encouraged to speak about this matter. It is considered to be both ‘shameful’ and ‘embarrassing’ to mention sexual health in any context, however nothing could be further from the truth. Islam is a very practical religion and understands that Allah SWT has created us and our various organs for a purpose. It is our responsibility to make sure they are taken care of and that we seek medical guidance when things go wrong.
As you already know, Islam forbids any type of sexual contact with anyone other than your spouse, which is one of the reasons why it is recommended that we marry as early as possible to prevent fitna and also the spread of disease like Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s) including Aids and HIV.
But what happens when personal issues come up after marriage? You are unlikely to tell anyone and as a result will suffer in silence, hoping the problem will go away. This is probably more applicable to women than it is to men – they tend to keep quiet if they have problems with their intimate health, and are unlikely to discuss this with their spouses let alone Doctors. The stark reality is that these issues are unlikely to go away and will only get worse, meaning serious consequences for your health in the future.
You may have heard that thousands of women die needlessly each year from cervical cancer – and all because they fail to have a smear test which could easily pick up a change in the cells of the cervix (the top of the womb).
Sadly, this problem is rife in the Muslim community where women are dying from gynaecological cancers because they feel ashamed talking to their Doctor if they spot something abnormal.
Shame or hayya is something all Muslims should have, but not at the expense of your health. And this goes for brothers too, who are vulnerable to testicular and prostate cancer. Also, because they don’t report abnormal symptoms until it’s too late, many die as a result.
In 2009, 2,209 men in the UK were diagnosed with testicular cancer, while an astonishing 40,841 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer. Prostate cancer accounts for 12% of all cancer deaths in the UK – and this is something we urgently need to highlight in the Muslim community.
You may be reading this thinking that dying from cancer just because you failed to act is a little extreme and not applicable to everyone. However, it’s not JUST cancer that can kill you. Leaving sexual health problems unchecked can lead to all sorts of problems such as infertility and impotency – both of which can kill your emotional wellbeing.
In women, never ignore any of the following symptoms and always seek medical advice if you have:
– A change in your monthly cycle
– Genital itching, bleeding or change in appearance
– Dark spots appearing (can be a sign of melanoma which is a type of skin cancer)
– Pain and cramping not related to your period
– Bloating on a persistent basis (can be a sign of ovarian cancer)
– Lumps, lesions or change in the texture of your skin
– Abnormal discharge or bleeding
– Pain during intercourse
– Loss of bladder control
– Changes to your bowel or bladder habits
– Pain when passing urine
– Pelvic and/or abdominal pain
– Intimate moles which change shape or colour or start to itch/bleed
– Lumps or swelling in the armpit or breasts
– Discharge/bleeding from breasts not related to breastfeeding
– Change in texture of skin in breasts
In men, never ignore the following symptoms and always seek medical advice if you have:
– A dull ache or sharp pain in your testicles or scrotum, which may come and go
– A feeling of heaviness in your scrotum
– A dull ache in your lower abdomen (stomach area)
– A sudden collection of fluid in your scrotum
– Lumps or swellings of any kind in your genital area
– Rashes, itching or bleeding of any kind
– Sudden twisting of the scrotum (painful and needs urgent medical attention)
– Pain in the groin or dull aches here
– Problems with urination including urgency, not emptying bladder fully, pain or frequent urination
Of course, the above symptoms are only a guideline and you should be familiar enough with your body to know what’s normal and what’s not. It’s vital you seek medical help as early as you possibly can – not only could it save your life, but it can save the need for drastic procedures such as hysterectomies (removing the womb), removing the bladder, breasts, testes or other parts of the body that can leave you disfigured and scarred for life.
Infertility is a common problem which can be treated in some cases where the problems are picked up early. Save yourself the heartache of never being able to have children by having any issues addressed as soon as possible.
And remember, there is no shame in front of a Doctor who can potentially save your life. Understandably, sisters in particular will avoid seeing male Doctors, but you have to remember that Allah SWT places the preservation of life over and above the concept of shame – so if a female doctor is unavailable upon request, you should either go private if you can afford to or see whoever is available if you cannot. And Allah SWT knows best.
Written by the Girl In The Black Hijaab