Figures have shown that a new symptom checker launched by Balance Activ in June 2017 has already been used nearly 120,000 times[i] by people worried about their intimate health. The symptom checker was developed after customer feedback and consumer research revealed that people are often confused by their symptoms when it comes to intimate health, and are often embarrassed to talk about it in detail with their partner, friends, family or sometimes even their doctor. The symptom checker has been designed with the Intimate Health Taskforce – a combination of healthcare professionals and women with bacterial vaginosis (BV), as a first step in finding the right advice and treatment.
Even though BV is known to be twice as common as thrush, recent research by Balance Activ revealed that only 7% of men and women questioned were confident that they knew what the condition was. The online symptom checker aims to help women find the right advice, whether their symptoms point to BV or other common vaginal conditions such as Thrush, and help them take the next step in solving the issue. Women often don’t want to talk about their intimate health concerns, and less than one in ten women recently surveyed by Balance Activ said they would talk to someone straight away about changes in vaginal conditions – in fact nearly half opted to go online for more information as a first step.
Helen Knox, Clinical Nurse Specialist in Contraception and Sexual Health and author of the Sexplained books, joined the Intimate Health Taskforce earlier this year. She commented: “The aim of the Intimate Health Taskforce is to help provide clear, accurate information to women who are looking to clarify their symptoms online, so that they can quickly get the right advice. We hope that this symptom checker and the information on the Balance Activ website will help women to understand what’s normal for them, and what to do when things change. Often some of the common vaginal conditions are self-diagnosed, and if women don’t understand what they have, they won’t be able to find the right treatment or get the correct screening tests. BV is caused when the delicate balance of bacteria we rely on to keep our vaginas healthy is disrupted. There are over the counter treatments available from pharmacy and supermarkets, but the most important thing is to be sure that you know what the problem is so that you’re not taking the wrong treatment or leaving something untreated that needs attention.”
The Balance Activ online symptom checker is not designed to replace expert medical advice, and it has been designed to flag up symptoms of any conditions that may require a visit to a GP or sexual health clinic for screening. Its aim is to provide women with a clearer picture of their symptoms so that they can either go and buy the right treatment themselves or talk to their pharmacist or another healthcare professional if needed. The symptom checker and website were launched in June 2017 as part of a campaign to inform and empower women to find out about their own intimate health issues and talk about them.
Dionne Sealy, member of the Intimate Health Taksforce who helped to review the symptom checker explains why she got involved: “I had experienced BV for years before I had even heard of it. At first, I assumed it was something like thrush and I tried to put up with it, and even mask the symptoms with perfumes and sprays at work which I hadn’t realised were actually making it worse. After trying different treatments, I found that Balance Activ works for me. I wanted to help other women in my situation – because I’d not heard of BV, I didn’t search for it online, so I would have liked to have something like the symptom checker available to me, where I could put in my own symptoms and find out what to do next. I hope that my involvement on the Intimate Health Taskforce helps other women like me who are worried but don’t know what he problem is.”
For more information and to access the online symptom checker click here.