As medicine and sexual attitudes continue to evolve, one mythical concept still has men everywhere stumped — the female anatomy. According to a recent study by U.K.-based cancer research charity Eve Appeal, 50 percent of adult males from a sample pool of 2,000 people were unable to correctly locate the vagina on an anatomical diagram.
Yes, seriously. Ladies aren’t off the hook either: A similar study found that 44 percent of women have just as much trouble locating female genitalia on a diagram. The series of studies were conducted as part of Eve Appeal’s Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month efforts for September, an annual cancer awareness campaign recognized by the American Cancer Society and the Foundation for Women’s Cancer.
According to an Eve Appeal press release, “The lack of basic knowledge about the female body or conversations about how the female anatomy works is extremely worrying,” particularly when it comes to the early detection of the five gynecologic cancers: womb, ovarian, cervical, vaginal and vulval.
Men are an important piece of this conversation, as they can play a major role in monitoring changes in their partners’ bodies. Of course, many gynecologic cancer symptoms (bloating, pain, urinary patterns) can only be determined through self-detection. But, according to Eve Appeal, other signs, such as irregular or unexpected bleeding, vaginal discharge that smells or may be blood-stained as well as changes to the skin of the vulva, can be visible to intimate partners. That’s why knowledge of basic female anatomy is crucial. How else will men — or women, for that matter — know the danger signs to look out for?
Unfortunately, the study shows that 50 percent of men polled were uncomfortable discussing gynecological health with female partners, and 17 percent felt they did not have any knowledge on the topic (nor did they feel an interest in learning, as they considered it a female issue).
At the end of the day, there is strength in numbers — and when the partners, friends and family members are knowledgeable about the symptoms of gynecologic cancer, the more likely early detection becomes.