A study has shown that around 50% of women aged 26 to 35 are unable to correctly identify a vagina when shown a diagram of the female reproductive system.
In contrast, most older females, aged between 66 and 75 had the ability to label the parts of their body on the diagrams.
The study was undertaken by The Eve Appeal, a women’s cancer charity and it found that less than 25% of females aged between 16 and 25 did not feel ‘well informed’ about health issues in gynaecology.
One in five of the women were unable to name one correct symptom of the five gynaecological cancers which affect the vulva, vagina, ovaries, cervix and womb.
Almost a third of females aged between 16 and 35 stated that they avoided doctor visits for gynaecological reasons because they were embarrassed. One in 10 said they had difficulty discussing this type of concern with their GP.
This comes as Gynaecological Cancer Awareness month commences.
In the UK, there are more than 20000 new diagnoses and in excess of 7600 deaths per year due to these cancers.
The chairperson of The Eve Appeal, Helena Morrissey, said the organisation is aware of the importance of promoting direct speech regarding the symptoms and signs of gynaecological cancers to women in all age groups. She said this survey has shed light on the distance they still have to go to make this possible.
She said that these cancers have a high 40% mortality rate. The understanding of the symptoms involved could save many lives and it is for this reason that women are urged to talk openly about these issues during Gynaecological Cancer Awareness month.
The study indicated that young women felt uncomfortable about the use of ‘vagina’ and around 40% of those aged 16 to 25 said they used words such as ‘women’s bits’ and ‘lady parts’ instead. Additionally, about 65% said they experienced problems with using the words ‘vulva’ or ‘vagina’.
Just below 50% of the female participants said they have difficulty discussing gynaecological health with their female friends and 67% had a problem discussing the issues with their sisters.
A vascular specialist at the Whiteley Clinic, Professor Mark Whiteley, said many pregnant females were completely unaware that varicose veins could affect their vulvas during pregnancy. He said if this is not treated, it could result in pain and discomfort.
He said the veins normally disappear after the birth, however it will return in a more severe form during any subsequent pregnancy if any underlying issues have not been resolved. This implies that it is better to get specialist advice to avoid problems in the future.
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