SHOCK STUDY: "Women don’t know their vaginas from their vulvas"

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A shocking survey shows local women have very poor awareness of their "lady bits".

The UK’s leading gynaecological cancer charity's research reveals 47% and 61% respectively of Yorkshire and Humberside females can't identify vagina and vulva on medical diagrams.

Less than a third of 1,000 women quizzed for Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month could correctly label six different body parts while 1 in 6 were unable to name a single gynae cancer.

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The Eve Appeal CEO Athena Lamnisos said: “Body confidence is important. But body knowledge is absolutely vital. Our research shows women don’t know their vaginas from their vulvas".

Regional stats highlight "alarmingly low knowledge" among women of their sexual and reproductive anatomy amid charity calls for females to get to know their bodies better to help save lives.

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When asked to label men's "bits" seven out of 10 women correctly identified foreskin, penis and testes. But, by contrast, just 27% could correctly label their own parts with almost half (47%) unable to locate the cervix.

Appeal 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".

She stressed “It is a proven fact 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 and honest conversations with them, rather than hiding behind embarrassment or taboo”.

Athena continued: "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 South Yorkshire and the UK to get to know their bodies this September and beyond.”

Vulval and vaginal diseases remain "forgotten gynae-cancers" – only 5% and 7% respectively of women identified these as a gynaecological cancers. Worryingly 12% incorrectly believed breast cancer a gynae cancer.

Further, females aren't educated on symptoms linked to gynaecological cancer. While 65% correctly associated unusual vaginal bleeding with cancer, other common symptoms such as unusual discharge, itching or a burning sensation on the vulva were not linked to the Big C.

Gynaecological cancer remains an under-funded and under-profiled cause, despite being second biggest cancer killer of women in the UK. Globally there are one million new cases of gynaecological cancers anually.

A frightening 500,000 women will die this year as a result of vulval, vaginal, cervical, womb or ovarian cancer – just 28,000 fewer than breast cancer. In the UK alone this adds up daily to 21 of our mothers, wives, daughters and friends.