Sunday, April 23, 2006

What Do You Think About the Vagina?

9441 women (18–44 years) from 13 countries were asked this question by researchers recently, and the results are published in the May 2006 [73(5):493-500] issue of the journal Contraception. Among the results:

  • "the great majority of women (95%) felt that it was important to be well informed about the vagina"
  • "just under half (47%) of the subjects felt that the vagina is the part of the body that women know least about"
  • "a very high proportion of women (87%) agreed that understanding their vagina will help to improve sexual satisfaction"
  • "When asked if they felt that vaginal health does not receive the attention that it deserves, 66% of the women overall agreed."
  • "Overall, 75% of the women stated that they had experienced a vaginal health problem"
  • "just under 30% of the women overall agreed that they had been told as children that touching their vagina was dirty, nasty or unclean."
  • "The majority of women (65%) felt that society has too many misconceptions about the vagina"
  • "An even larger proportion of women overall (78%) agreed that society's taboos surrounding the vagina contribute to women's ignorance."
  • "The majority of women (72%) chose positive words to describe their vagina. The most popular terms that were selected by women were intimate (51%), sexy (11%) and mysterious (10%). In contrast, only a small proportion (4%) chose negative terms such as troublesome, ugly or unattractive to describe their vagina."
  • "overall, only 39% of the women had ever read an informative article on the vagina"
  • "The majority of women (71%) believed that a tampon could not get lost or trapped within the vagina"
  • "most women (77%) were comfortable discussing their vaginas with female friends... A high level of comfort in talking to partners was observed consistently in all countries... Overall, fewer than 50% of the women were comfortable talking to a HCP about vagina-related issues, and 25% were uncomfortable"

    This last point is the most interesting to me personally. Despite the fact that women were generally comfortable talking to each other or a partner about the vagina, and an average of 75% had experienced vaginal health problems, less than 50% were comfortable talking to their healthcare provider. The women seem to be saying, "We want to know about this, we want to talk about this, and we think there are too many taboos and misconceptions, but we are still not comfortable with our clinicians." Perhaps providers can make adjustments to ensure that women are more comfortable, and try to draw out information that may allow the women to receive better treatment for their conditions.

    Note: the women interviewed were from Austria; Belgium; Brazil; Canada; Finland; France; Germany; Italy; Netherlands; Portugal; Spain; Switzerland; UK.

    Technorati Tags: ; ;
    MeSH Tags: Vagina; Women's Health
  • 1 Comments:

    Blogger Kat Coble said...

    It doesn't help that clinicians still act as though it is taboo. My GYN ALWAYS says "I'm going to put my finger against the inside of your leg now" which is code for "I'm entering the vagina for a manual exam." Silly me, I expected the doctor to say "vagina", so I was more surprised than I should have been that first time.

    9:45 AM  

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