Yeast infections: we know it’s an uncomfortable topic. But, we also know that three in four women will experience a vaginal yeast infection at some point. For many women, yeast infections are just another part of life, much like breast exams and menstruation.
Yet despite the commonality of the condition, we—the marketers and communicators for MONISTAT—are all too aware that women still find yeast infections to be embarrassing, and we’re on a mission to change this perception.
In fact, in a new independent survey commissioned by MONISTAT, more than two thirds (67%) of women agreed that having a yeast infection is a cause for embarrassment. But being embarrassed about a yeast infection is like being embarrassed for catching a cold.
Women who suffer from yeast infections haven’t done anything wrong and shouldn’t feel at fault. But our survey suggests otherwise.
The stigma associated with yeast infections adds unnecessary stress to an incredibly normal, albeit uncomfortable, condition.
The survey also found that less than half of women surveyed (45%) feel comfortable talking openly about yeast infections with a friend.
By contrast, the majority of women felt at least somewhat comfortable discussing menstruation (85%) and urinary tract infections (82%) with friends.
Even more concerning, close to one in 10 would not be comfortable talking openly about yeast infections with anyone, even their doctor.
Many women also think that suffering from a yeast infection is a cause for judgment: close to one-third (29%) of respondents indicated that they would be at least somewhat worried that other people would judge them if they knew they had experienced a yeast infection.
This is a serious problem. Embarrassment prevents women from discussing their conditions with their physicians, and it’s important to fight these feelings of shame through education.
As communicators, we are often charged with educating consumers about a brand or the benefits of a product, but this is an entirely different effort. This time, we have to help our customers understand they did nothing wrong.
PR’S TOUGH TASK
Convincing members of the media—not to mention the general public—that “uncomfortable” topics should be discussed is always difficult at first.
In the beginning, ideas like ours are turned down or scoffed at simply because they challenge the status quo. But my team and I have learned that in order to be successful with communicating difficult topics to the media, we have to remember a few key points:
▶ Educate: We should not assume that journalists know as much about a topic as we would like. When we interact with reporters and editors, we do our best to provide as much relevant material as possible to help them understand what yeast infections are and what causes them, demonstrating that the stigma associated with the condition is unnecessary.
Many of our key media contacts are men and are completely ignorant of the topic simply because they haven’t had to think about it before. Serving as an educational resource for journalists is a great way to establish and build relationships, which allows for honest discussion about what might otherwise be difficult topics.
▶ Normalize: Once we educate media reps about what causes yeast infections, we then offer statistics about how common the condition is. This helps reporters to understand how relevant the story can be to their readers.
At this point, we’ve established that there is an unfair stigma associated with yeast infections and how common the condition is in women, so we’re now well-positioned to highlight the features and benefits of MONISTAT and show just how easy it can be to cure a yeast infection.
▶ Provide Access: If you’re in public relations, you know journalists need “access” to complete their story. Whether it’s access to a spokesperson or to survey results, the media need a credible and legitimate source.
When trying to communicate a tough topic to—and through—the media, keep the aforementioned points in mind.
Educate media reps about the topic, normalize the issue and provide access to a credible source or two.
By encouraging journalists to talk candidly about yeast infections, we hope to dispel some of the myths around the subject and empower women to take control of their personal health. PRN
Jennifer Moyer is VP of marketing at Trevose, Penn.-based INSIGHT Pharmaceuticals, LLC. She can be reached at email@example.com.