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Half of Young Women Couldn't Find a Vagina on a Diagram: Can You?


Well, this is embarrassing: When a recent survey by U.K. cancer research charity Eve Appeal asked 1,000 ladies about their lady bits, half of the women under age 36 couldn't locate a vagina even when literally handed a map of the female reproduction system. Even worse, 65 percent said they were uncomfortable with simply saying the word "vagina". Instead they confessed to using cutesy euphemisms like "parts" and "bits". The survey didn't say where the respondents thought the vagina was but now we know why every box of tampons comes with such detailed drawings and instructions.

For the record, the key features about the female reproductive system that every owner of said system should know are the ovaries, where the eggs mature until they are released; the fallopian tubes, which carry the eggs to the uterus; the uterus, where a baby gestates; the endometrium, the lining of the uterus where a fertilized egg can attach and also the source of all the bleeding during menstruation; the cervix, which is the barrier between the vagina and the uterus; the vagina, the canal where sperm go up and blood and/or babies come down; and the vulva, which describes the parts of your reproductive system that are visible on the outside, including your labia, the opening to your vagina and clitoris.

But 25 percent of women in the survey said they don't feel "well informed" about their bodies. Even more: 30 percent of younger women admitted to avoiding getting yearly checkups or other gynecological care out of embarrassment, half of the women said they had a hard time discussing these issues with their friends, and two-thirds balked at talking to their sisters. 

But perhaps the most concerning statistic to come out of this survey was that 20 percent of young women can't identify a single correct symptom of any of the five main gynecological cancers (which include cervical, vaginal, ovarian, vulval and womb). As it is now, cancers of the female reproductive systems have about a 40 percent mortality rate, a number The Eve Appeal feels could be reduced if women better understood their bodies. For example, cervical cancer is one of the most treatable cancers when caught early but because of ignorance about Pap smears and early symptoms of the disease it still kills thousands of women each year. 

Even more interesting than who got it wrong, though, is who got it right: all the grannies in the house! The researchers found that the vast majority of women aged 60 and up had no problem pointing out the right parts and using the correct words. In addition, the older women felt more confident in the knowledge of their own bodies and were more likely to discuss gynecological issues with their doctors. The researchers explained it saying simply, "They were better educated, in every way." So much for modern sex ed!

When Edmondo De Amicis said every woman is a mystery, he probably didn't mean to ourselves. Time to break out the anatomy chart, ladies! Need a refresher course? Check out the diagram below. 


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