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Young women avoid discussing sexual health with GPs because of fear of saying ‘vagina'

Young women are avoiding going to a GP for gynaecological issues because of ‘embarrassment’ and ‘fear of intimate examination’, a new study has revealed.

Instead of seeking help from a doctor, more than half (57%) would turn to Google, with another one in five preferring to confide in their mums.

In a survey of 1000 women, those aged 18-24 were four times less likely to go to a doctor with a sexual health issue than their 55-64 year old counterparts.

Two thirds of young women were embarrassed to say the word ‘vagina’ (66%) or ‘orgasm’ (64%), with over half being embarrassed about ‘labia’ (60%) and ‘discharge’ (56%).

Nearly half avoided going to the doctor because of being scared of being intimately examined (48%) or being embarrassed to talk about sexual health issues (44%). Some 26% didn’t seek professional help because of not knowing what words to use.

The embarrassment factor dropped considerably among older participants, with just one in 10 (11%) aged over 65 saying they would be shy saying ‘vagina’ to a healthcare professional.

Katherine Taylor, acting chief executive at Ovarian Cancer Action who led the study, said: ‘The reluctance to see a doctor for gynaecological issues is really worrying and, while many of us have turned to the internet for help, googling symptoms is not a substitute for proper medical attention.

‘Illnesses such as ovarian cancer - which kills a woman every two hours in the UK – is much easier to treat if it’s diagnosed early, so it’s incredibly important that women feel empowered to talk about their health and feel comfortable visiting healthcare professionals.’

‘It’s so important that women are empowered to discuss these issues. Saying vagina won’t kill you, but avoiding saying it could.’

Readers' comments (11)

  • My Mum used to get her words mixed up. When going into a shop to buy my Dad pipe tobacco she asked for 4 oz of golden vagina.

    Perhaps we should use the term virginia .

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