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Why can’t women find their own vaginas?

“Put up your leg!” “Squat down!” “Just stick it up there!!” One memorable swim trip in high school found a group of us girls standing around a bathroom stall, yelling instructions to a friend who was trying to insert a tampon for the first time.

None of us were exactly gynecological experts, but we figured she’d got the deed done when she came out and jumped in the water. But we weren’t even five minutes into our swim when we spotted a little white (and red) thing bobbing in the water. Yep, it was her tampon. Apparently she’d inserted it horizontally between her labia, like you’d put a hot dog in a bun. She couldn’t find her own vagina.

And my friend is not alone in her Most Embarrassing Moment Ever, according to a new survey conducted by the cancer research charity The Eve Appeal. After asking over 1,000 ladies questions about their lady bits, they discovered that half of us aged 25-36 can’t find our own vaginas. And we’re definitely not naive high school students.

Well, this is embarrassing.

The Eve Appeal noted that younger women not only couldn’t properly identify most of the parts on a chart of the female anatomy but that 25 percent of us don’t feel “well informed” about our bodies and 20 percent of us can’t identify a single correct symptom of any of the five main gynecological cancers. This is particularly scary as cervical cancer is one of the most treatable when caught early but still kills thousands of women each year because of not finding it until a late stage.

Another concerning stat is that even though lots of us are confused we won’t ask questions. One-third of younger women admitted to avoiding getting yearly checkups or other gynecological care out of embarrassment. Compare that to the majority of women aged 66-75 who aced all the answers. So much for modern sex ed?

While the survey was done in the U.K., I’m not sure us Americans would score much better. Recently my sixth grade son saw a package of maxi pads in the store and asked me what they were for. When I told him that women used them to catch blood during their periods (yeah, I’m that mom) he looked completely shocked. “You bleed? How does that even happen?” he gasped.

Now it was my turn to be shocked. “Don’t you remember the female anatomy chart from your health class in school?” I asked.

He didn’t. It turns out they’d only shown him the boys’ stuff. Clearly I’m going to have to be a lot more thorough with the sex ed talks at home. Time to invest in a couple of posters.

More on female health

8 Things you should probably know about your vagina
Sex shouldn’t hurt but here are 7 reasons that it might
9 Sexual health questions answered by a real gynecologist

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