WASHINGTON: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging women to take an active role in their gynecological health with a new web series Under the Paper Gown.
Each of the six episodes covers topics from how to address sensitive topics with confidence to which way the paper gown—a staple of gynecological exams—is worn for appointments.
Developed by Ogilvy PR in Washington, DC, Under the Paper Gown was designed to empower women to ask questions and have more open conversations with their gynecologists to better catch the signs of cancer early.
As the country continues to fight its way through the COVID-19 pandemic, it's important that people resume preventative care they may have delayed. The total number of cancer screening tests received by women declined steeply during the pandemic.
"There are pap and HPV screenings for cervical cancer, but there's not yet a recommended screening test for the other gynecological cancers," said Libby Dwyer, Ogilvy DC group strategy director. "It's largely up to women to recognize the symptoms and speak to their doctors, which is why the conversations we have with our doctors are so critical."
The series features comedian Amber Ruffin and her sister Lacey, and uses humor as a way to draw attention to important health issues that are often seen as awkward and uncomfortable for women to discuss with their doctors.
"Instead of telling women to speak up, we figured out you have to lean into that vulnerability and say, yeah this is pretty awkward," Dwyer said. "When you can start talking about what we need to talk about."
Ultimately, when women are more comfortable speaking with their doctors, it's easier to screen for gynecologic cancers such as cervical, uterine and ovarian cancer.
As the doctor says in the second episode, "It's a vagina. Not a crystal ball. That's why it's best to be as open and honest with me as possible."
The series has garnered more than 60,000 views on the CDC's YouTube channel, and videos on Amber Ruffin's Instagram have almost 20,000 views.
"It's been amazing to see the comments roll through on social media," said Jackie Stewart, Ogilvy VP and client lead for the CDC account. "The best comments from a public health standpoint have been, 'I've made my appointment! This is a great reminder!'"
Ogilvy has been working with the CDC on gynecologic cancer campaigns since their launch in 2008.