X Marks the Spot: Women Can’t Label Vagina Diagram


The White Flower, Georgia O’Keeffe

IF YOU asked any man on the planet to point to his penis, he’d find it every time. And how could he not. Men’s junk sticks out like a sore thumb — or, like a penis. But apparently women aren’t as precise in the “locate your anatomy” department.

According to a new UK study released by the The Eve Appeal, only half of the women surveyed between the ages of 26-35 were able to correctly locate and label the female reproductive system on a diagram.

While this study didn’t poll millions of women from all over the world (it should have), the information revealed is still telling, and well, sort of ridiculous. Ridiculous because humans have managed to locate and explore the ocean deeps and the far reaches of space… but women are still having trouble locating their vaginas?

The vagina is often referred to as flower, but, as can be clearly seen by this research, it looks like they’re thought of more as dark, confusing caves and know one knows what the hell is going on up in there. Just how exactly is one supposed to maintain, fix, or, just as importantly, pleasure their equipment, if they don’t know where the important parts are to be found? If knowledge is power, and power is the ability to effect change, then it’s not a big jump to correlate these findings with statistics that recently came to light revealing that many women experience trouble — and sometimes a downright inability — to have an orgasm.

In August, researchers at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, located at Indiana University in Bloomington, analyzed responses from 2,850 single Americans and found that lesbians are having more orgasms than straight women. Men, regardless of sexual orientation, are still coming in first (pun intended) and winning the orgasm race. Shocking. (*Note: see diagram)

Now there are many hypothetical conclusions that could be drawn from this information, but what the lead researcher Justin Garcia told Reuters Health is the interesting part: “Women’s orgasms are less predictable than men’s and they vary with sexual orientation and men’s don’t.”

As any one who’s ever gabbed with a few girlfriends about their sexual experiences can attest to, the debate around female orgasms and how they’re best achieved is like most women’s issues: complicated. G-spot this, G-spot that, does one even exist? Well, yes, it does, and it’s in your vagina. It seems that the female orgasm would probably be less elusive if women were equipped with better information about the different organs that constitute the reproductive system and their various locations  — knowing the location of the G-spot would be a good place to start. Not to mention the different ways the parts work — did you know there’s a difference between clitoral orgasms and vaginal kinds, and that they’re achieved through two very distinct processes of stimulation? Yeah, neither did we.

And while the results of these studies can be helpful when it comes to having better intimate relationships with ourselves and our partners, it’s not all sex and orgasms that we should be thinking about. Detecting and preventing gynecological issues, like cancer and HPV, are reasons enough to really get to know our vaginas better.

The Eve Appeal study stated that “more than one in ten of 16-35 year olds said they found it very hard to talk to their GPs about gynecological health concerns, and nearly a third admitted that they had avoided going to the doctors altogether with gynecological issues due to embarrassment.” This is just scary, considering all the women not surveyed in this study that probably experience the same difficulties.

Although vaginal cancer is rare (1 of every 1,100 women will develop vaginal cancer in her lifetime), preventing cervical cancer, which is “almost always caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection” and enjoys a much higher rate of diagnosis, according to the The National Cancer Institute, is a good reason to be open with your doctor. Especially when you consider the lovely fact, brought to us by our helpful friends at the CDC, that “HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives.”

All hilarity, awkwardness, and fear-inducing statistics aside, we can’t stress the following enough: it’s important that we know where our vaginas are and, more importantly, the many intricate parts that make them up. Whether you call it by its textbook name or have a pet name for it — Eve Appeal also reported that 40% of 16-25 year olds resort to using code names such as ‘lady parts’ or ‘women’s bits when referring to their vaginas — get to know yourself now so if things go wrong you aren’t ashamed to talk about them with the people who can help.

So grab that copy of Grey’s Anatomy (the textbook, not the show), a mirror, a flashlight — whatever it is you need to get to finally get that vital good look. And don’t be afraid to scream out “OOOOOOOHHHH, that’s what that is!” when you do.

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