One in four women would not seek immediate help – for gynaecological concerns

One in four women admit they would not immediately seek medical advice – if they were worried about their gynaecological health, a study has found.

More than a fifth (22%) say they are too embarrassed to discuss such health issues, while half don't want to over-react – and 17% are afraid of what they might hear from a medical professional.

However, the research of 2,000 women, and people with gynaecological organs, also found that more than half (54%) admit they wouldn't know if symptoms such as bloating, discharge, and pelvic pain, were anything out of the ordinary.

And four in 10 (41%) would never stop to think about whether any tummy discomfort, discharge, or change in their periods or toilet habits, were normal for them.

Even more worryingly, the research revealed that just 9% of those polled were aware that there were five different types of cancers that could affect their gynaecological organs. And 61% would not be able to identify a single symptom of any of these five cancers.

Almost all of those polled had heard of ovarian cancer (93%), and cervical cancer (95%). But 64% had never heard of vulval cancer, while 48% were clueless they could be subject to cancer of the vagina, and 29% didn’t know it could affect the womb.

This is despite more than 22,000 women being diagnosed with these types of cancer every year in the UK – and 21 dying every day.

A spokeswoman for Bodyform, which carried out the study of 2,000 women to highlight awareness of gynaecological cancers among those of all ages, said: “It is incredible to think that, with the number of women being diagnosed every year, knowledge of what to look out for is so incredibly low.

“Every day, 60 women are given the shattering news that they have one of the five types of cancer affecting their gynae organs. And yet awareness is low, and little is done outside the medical arena to heighten knowledge among those who need it most.”

The research also found that three in 10 (29%) assume they would have all the same gynaecological symptoms, while 16% reckon they would be totally different.

Of those not wanting to visit a doctor for concerns about their gynaecological health, 15% openly admit they prefer the “bury my head in the sand” approach.

And while 83% of women do check themselves for key indicators of breast cancer, exactly eight in 10 women understandably feel there needs to be greater awareness among women about the different types of gynaecological cancers.

Particularly as just 4% remember any sort of reference or education at school – with 45% believing it should be part of their studies between the ages of 11 and 15.

Bodyform has teamed up with The Eve Appeal, to help educate women and people with gynae organs about the five types of gynaecological cancers, including how to spot the signs – and it will also provide a link to the site on all product packaging.

Athena Lamnisos, CEO of leading gynae cancer charity, The Eve Appeal, said: “Our mission is to open up conversations about gynaecological health with everyone. There’s a woeful lack of knowledge about signs, symptoms, and risk factors.

“These may not be cancer, but we want people to recognise the changes that might be, and get them checked out. They need to know what they are looking for, and when to seek help from a medical professional.

“Women need to feel more comfortable checking themselves, and doing something about it if they have any concerns. There’s shame, embarrassment, and taboo that surrounds gynae health – with Bodyform, we’ve created a powerful partnership to address the information gap.”

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