Half of 26 to 35-year-olds were unable to correctly identify a vagina on a medical diagram of the female reproductive system, a new survey has found.
In contrast, the majority of older women aged 66 to 75 were much better educated about their body parts.
The study, by women’s cancer charity The Eve Appeal, found that less than a quarter of 16 to 25-year-olds said they felt confident they were well informed about gynaecological health issues, compared to more than 42 per cent of women aged 66 to 75.
As Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Cancer month launches, The Eve Appeal are campaigning for young women to face up to embarrassment about gynaecological health, in order to prevent cancers.
Currently 55 women are diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer every day in the UK.
Shockingly, the charity found one in five women aged 16 to 25 surveyed couldn’t name one correct symptom of any of the five gynaecological cancers, which affect the womb, cervix, ovaries, vagina and vulva.
Young women found it difficult to talk about their body parts.
Nearly 40 per cent of 16-25 year olds resort to using names such as ‘lady parts’ or ‘women’s bits’ to discuss gynaecological health and 65 per cent said they have a problem using the words ‘vagina’ or ‘vulva’.
Worryingly, more than one in 10 of 16 to 35-year-olds said they found it very hard to take to their GP about gynaecological health, and nearly a third admitted they had avoided going to the doctors altogether about gynaecological issues due to embarrassment.
These figures dramatically decrease amongst women in older age groups, debunking the popular conception that because society is more open these days young women can talk more freely about gynaecological health issues.
Helena Morrissey, chairman of The Eve Appeal said she wanted women to talk openly about gynaecological cancers.
She said: ‘At the Eve Appeal we know how important it is to promote straight talking about the signs and symptoms of gynaecological cancers to women of all ages, and this survey has highlighted just how far we still have to go to make this happen.
‘These cancers have some of the worst outcomes for women, with a 40 per cent mortality rate.
‘Understanding the symptoms will save lives, which is why we are urging women this Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month to talk more openly about these life-saving issues.’