Women should be more body aware

A worrying number of Scottish women have little knowledge of their gynaecological anatomy leading to fears that the signs of cancer could be missed.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 4th September 2016, 7:00 pm
The Eve Appeal is encouraging women to open up about gynaecological issues and start what could be a life-saving conversation.
The Eve Appeal is encouraging women to open up about gynaecological issues and start what could be a life-saving conversation.

When shown a medical drawing of the female reproductive system, just over a third of women could correctly label six different parts.

However, 48 per cent could not identify the vagina and 58 per cent the vulva.

In addition, one in eight were unable to name a single gynaecological cancer.

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The figures have been released for Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month (GCAM) by the Eve Appeal, the UK’s leading gynaecological cancer charity.

The Eve Appeal is calling on women to get to know their bodies better as it may just save their lives.

When asked to label the male anatomy six out of ten women could correctly identify the foreskin, penis and testes, but by contrast just over a third (35 per cent) of women surveyed could correctly label the female anatomy.

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.”

Globally there are one million new cases of gynaecological cancers every year and 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.

Athena Lamnisos, CEO of The Eve Appeal, added: “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.

“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.”