Nearly half of British women cannot identify the vagina, study finds

Those aged over 65 had the worst knowledge of female anatomy, research by cancer charity the Eve Appeal found

Almost half of women in Britain do not know the basic anatomy of their vaginas, according to new research.

Of 1,000 women surveyed, only half could locate the vagina on medical diagrams of the female reproductive organs, and less than a third could correctly label six different parts.

One in seven women were unable to name a single one of the five gynaecological cancers, which are ovarian, womb, cervical, vaginal and vulval, despite 21,000 new cases being diagnosed in the UK each year, according to gynaecological cancer charity the Eve Appeal.

Those aged over 65 had the least knowledge. Less than one in four women in this age group could correctly label the female anatomy.

However, when asked to label male anatomy, 70 per cent of women could correctly identify the foreskin, penis and testes.

The figures come from a study by the charity to mark the start of Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month.

The charity said the lack of basic knowledge and awareness among women in Britain was “extremely worrying”, given 21,000 women a year are diagnosed with gynaecological cancers in the UK.

Labelled diagram of the female reproductive system

The Eve Appeal’s Specialist Gynaecological Cancer Information Nurse, Tracie Miles, said: “Body knowledge is vital from the time young girls begin to experience puberty, to their first sexual experience right through to motherhood and eventually the menopause. However, the lack of basic knowledge about the female body or conversations around how the female anatomy works, is extremely worrying - how can we expect women to know what to look out for in terms of unexpected changes in their vagina or vulva or to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a gynaecological cancer, if they’re not body aware?

“It is a proven fact that early diagnosis of women’s cancers can save lives, therefore it really is never too early to start educating young girls about their bodies by having frank, honest conversations with them, rather than hiding behind embarrassment or taboo”.

Athena Lamnisos, chief executive of The Eve Appeal said: “Body confidence is important, but body knowledge is absolutely vital, and our research has shown that women don’t know their vaginas from their vulvas.”

She added: “We’re imploring women to understand and be aware of what to listen out for. They need to know what’s normal for them. They need to be able to talk openly about periods, irregular bleeding and any changes that they notice to their bodies. That is why, at The Eve Appeal, we’re determined to change this by asking women across the UK to get to know their bodies this September and beyond.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in