DO you know your labia majora from your labia minora? Could you point to your clitoris and vagina on a diagram?
Many women know very little about their anatomy which experts say could cost them their health.
A new survey has revealed that less than half (41 per cent) of all adults could label all of the gynaecological organs correctly on a diagram.
It also found that more than one third (37 per cent) of adults can’t label the vagina, while 31 per cent don’t know where the vulva is.
One in three people are not aware of any types of gynaecological cancers and only two per cent could name all five.
Worryingly, the results, which were collected by The Eve Appeal weren’t hugely dissimilar for women.
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According to the survey, which was conducted on 1,500 adults earlier this year, just over half (51 percent) of all women are able to describe their own anatomy correctly.
The Eve Appeal, a charity which raises awareness and funds research into gynaecological cancers, also discovered that only 9 per cent of adults were taught about gynaecological health in school.
Women who aren't aware of gynaecological cancers and what symptoms to watch out for are at higher risk of missing out on an early diagnoses.
Catching cancer earlier is one of the most effective ways to improve survival.
What are they, what are the symptoms and how is it treated?
The five main types of gynecological cancer are: cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, and vulvar. (A sixth type of gynecological cancer is the very rare fallopian tube cancer.)
Symptoms can vary between women and are different for different cancers but can include:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge is common in all gynecologic cancers except vulvar cancer
- Feeling full too quickly or difficulty eating, bloating, and abdominal or back pain are common only for ovarian cancer
- Pelvic pain or pressure is common for ovarian and uterine cancers.
- More frequent or urgent need to urinate and/or constipation are common for ovarian and vaginal cancers
- Itching, burning, pain, or tenderness of the vulva, and changes in vulva colour or skin, such as a rash, sores, or warts, are found only in vulvar cancer
The treatment required will depend on the location of the cancer, its grade and stage but may include:
- hysterectomy and possibly bilateral salpingo oophorectomy
- external beam radiotherapy
- internal brachytherapy
Sex education was only made a compulsory part of the curriculum in UK schools in 2019, which GP, Dr Ellie Cannon, said makes sense of the knowledge gap.
Until then, schools were not obligated to educate children on topics like genital anatomy or menstrual health.
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Dr Ellie said: “With schools previously missing this vital information, and parents often at a loss too, it is unsurprising that so many adults in the UK today have little understanding of their bodies and the gynaecological cancers.”
In response to the women’s anatomy knowledge gap, the charity launched the Know Your Body Programme – a collection of gynaecological health lesson plans for teachers.
The lesson plans for seven to 13-year-olds cover the topics of anatomy, menstrual health, HPV and cancer, and female genital mutilation.
Athena Lamnisos, The Eve Appeal CEO, said she hoped the course would help everyone know their bodies “that bit better” so they could look after themselves.
"We want children to be equipped with the knowledge and information that will help them look after their health," she explained.
“We want children to be equipped with the knowledge and information that will help them look after their health,” Athena added.
The lessons are currently being piloted in 53 lessons in schools in London and Greater Manchester, reaching over 1,100 young people.
According to the charity,88 per cent young people have developed a greater understanding of the internal gynaecological organs and 70 per cent now know how to keep their genitals healthy.
Anatomy quiz answers:1. Fallopian tube, 2. Ovary, 3. Cervix , 4. Womb, 5. Vagina, 6. Clitoral hood/clitoris, 7. Urethral opening,8. Labia majora, 9 Labia minora, 10. Vaginal opening
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