Manchester are more sex savvy than the rest of the country, separating the myth from the muff when faced with a list of fanny falsities.
Sexual health has taken an increasingly prominent role in public debate, with concerns that not enough people understand each other’s bodies, or even their own, well enough.
And a survey by Canesten found 84% of UK are more concerned with keeping their sexy parts well-groomed rather than checking for health problems.
The public were confronted with a list of the 10 most commonly believed myths about vaginas compiled by GP Dr Roger Henderson, which we’ve included below.
- Vagina size depends on your build
- The vagina has several parts, including the labia, clitoris and uretha
- Healthy vaginas don’t smell
- Infections are down to poor hygiene
- Discharge is dirty
- Thrush is the most common infection
- Bacterial Vaginosis is an STI
- Infections during pregnancy are a cause for concern
- Lots of sex causes looseness
MM took to the streets of the city centre armed with the same list of lies about lady bits and asked men and women to identify which ones they thought were true or false.
Almost half of the country (48%) had never heard of Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) – an overgrowth of ‘bad’ bacteria naturally found in the vagina that occurs due to a pH imbalance – and a staggering 60% thought it was a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
But Mancunians were far more clued up as 84% didn’t just know what it is, they also correctly identified myth seven – that states BV is an STI – as untrue.
Dr Henderson said: “Some women can be shy when talking about BV and thrush, yet both conditions are extremely common and they often get confused about the causes and symptoms.
“Interestingly, this survey reveals an alarming number of women incorrectly believe BV is a sexually transmitted infection, such as Chlamydia.
“This may explain why some women feel uneasy seeking medical advice – even though they shouldn’t.”
There were a couple of misconceptions held by the women Canesten surveyed that Manchester ladies and gents have also bought into – the first being that women are more likely to get thrush than BV.
78% thought thrush was the most common vaginal infection but, for pre-menopausal women, BV is more common – it will affect one in three women at some point in their lives.
People across Manchester and the UK also associated BV with being ‘unclean’ – 37% of Mancunians believed that infection is down to poor hygiene.
In fact, over-washing can disrupt the vagina’s natural, self-cleaning bacteria. Rarely are infections like BV caused due to washing too little.
But Mancs were soon back in the lead with their knowledge of the Notorious V.A.G, knowing that size doesn’t matter and you don’t always have to steer clear of a smelly snapper.
74% of people we spoke to knew the first myth – vaginas size depends on your build – was false. Your body size has no bearing on the size of your genitals.
Man Met students Lauren Gray, 21, and Georgette Bates, 23, felt that TV could provide people with both positive and negative perceptions of their bodies.
Lauren said: “I think a lot of TV has affected people’s body image. But then you have shows like Embarrassing Bodies. They’re more a positive thing.”
We may know body size doesn’t determine vagina size but 42% believed that lots of sex causes looseness. This common myth simply isn’t true.
The vagina does expand during sex to accommodate, but shrinks back to its usual size afterwards.
Joseph Heaps, 80, an ex-soldier, from south Manchester, said: “Men do need to know about women’s bodies better. It’s just healthy.”
So what does a healthy hoohah smell like? 78% of Mancunians knew that sometimes, healthy vaginas do smell.
All vaginas have a natural odour although it is important to know what is normal for you, and to consult a GP if the smell is concerning.
And unlike most 74% in Manchester knew that discharge is not dirty – it is full of ‘good’ bacteria that helps prevent infection.
Shwetha Kumar, 24, a graduate from Rusholme, said: “I think it’s important both sexes understand the changes to their body.
“Sexual education is important. Maybe not too early, but from the age after 10, it should be taught.”
When read the myth that ‘the vagina has several parts, including the labia, clitoris, and urethra’, 52% knew this was a false statement.
The vagina is only the internal muscular passage that ends at the cervix.
Nuvieza Prescott, an expecting mother from Chorley, said it is ‘so important’ that people understand not just their own bodies, but the other sex’s as well.
She told MM: “They should be educated better. But they also need to find out for themselves. We take our bodies for granted.”
It is very common for expectant mums to get infections during pregnancy and the can result from a natural change in hormones.
Infections at this time are no more risky but 89% of Mancunians wrongly thought they were a cause for concern.
But you should always attend the GP if you feel your health or your baby’s health is at risk.
Pregnant or not, when it comes to concerns about your sexual health your best port of call is always your doctor.
Manchester were undecided on this with 50% of those surveyed thinking over-the-counter options were an alternative for those not wishing to go but professional medical advice is always the safest way to go.
Dr Henderson said: “It’s concerning to see that three out of five women have never had a sexual health check.
“Whether it’s because they are embarrassed or just ‘time poor’, it highlights the need for women to have the option available so they can self-test and treat common vaginal health complaints at home, if for whatever reason they are not able to visit a healthcare professional in the first instance.”
In a bid to combat women putting off checking for BV and thrush because they’re too embarrassed or ‘don’t have the time Canesten, who conducted the initial survey, have launched the first ever home test.
Image courtesy of Hey Paul Studios, with thanks.