Half of young women don't know where their vagina is, a shocking study shows.
A poll of 1,000 women found that just half of those aged 26 to 35 could correctly label this part of their anatomy on a medical drawing of the female reproductive system.
In contrast, older women aged 66 to 75 were much better educated about their bodies, with eight in 10 able to correctly label ovaries and nearly nine in 10 the womb.
The study found that 65 per cent of women don't like to use the word vagina or vulva and nearly 40 per cent of 16 to 25-year-olds resort to using code names such as "lady parts" or "women’s bits".
The research, by women's cancer charity The Eve Appeal, discovered that women were disturbingly ill-informed about gynaecological health issues.
In fact, one in five young women were unable to name a single correct symptom of any of the five gynaecological cancers, which affect the womb, cervix, ovaries, vagina and vulva.
And nearly a third of those aged 16 to 35 said they had avoided going to the doctor with gynaecological issues due to embarrassment, while one in 10 said they found it very had to talk to their GPs about these concerns.
In fact, in the UK alone, 53 women are diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer every day, there are more than 20,000 new cases each year and more than 7,600 deaths.
Helena Morrissey, chairman of The Eve Appeal, said: “At the Eve Appeal we know how important it is to promote straight talking about the signs and symptoms of gynaecological cancers to women of all ages, and this survey has highlighted just how far we still have to go to make this happen.
“These cancers have some of the worst outcomes for women, with a 40 per cent mortality rate.
"Understanding the symptoms will save lives, which is why we are urging women this Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month to talk more openly about these life-saving issues.”
This term refers to the five cancers that start in the female reproductive system: Cervical, ovarian, vaginal, vulval and womb.
What are the symptoms?
This type of cancer can affect women of all ages but is most common in women between 30 to 45 years of age.
It is a largely preventable disease and the UK cervical screening programme is estimated to save more than 4,000 lives each year.
The key early signs and symptoms include unusual bleeding from the vagina particularly after sex or after menopause when your periods have stopped and persistent vaginal discharge that is blood-stained or smells unpleasant,
Ovarian cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death in women and accounts for more UK deaths than all of the other gynaecological cancers put together.
The good news is that if diagnosed at an early stage, the outcome is good.
Early signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer are: persistent pelvic and abdominal pain; increased abdominal size or persistent bloating; difficulty eating and feeling full quickly and urinary symptoms such as needing to pass water more often than usual.
This type of cancer is a very rare disease with just under 250 cases diagnosed in the UK each year.
Symptoms include bleeding when you are not having a period or bleeding after the menopause - this is the most common symptom. You may have bleeding after sex.
About three out of 10 women have vaginal discharge that smells or is blood stained, there may also be pain during sexual intercourse; a lump or growth in the vagina that you or your doctor can feel - about 10 per cent have this.
A persistent vaginal itch that won't go away
Signs of this cancer can include a lasting itch, pain or soreness, thickened, raised, red, white or dark patches on the skin of the vulva, an open sore or growth visible on the skin, burning pain when you pass urine and vaginal discharge or bleeding.
Watch out for a mole on the vulva that changes shape or colour as well as a lump or swelling in the vulva.
Over 7,500 women are diagnosed every year in the UK.
Uterine cancer is almost always curable if caught at an early stage so it is important for women to be aware of what to look for.
The key early signs and symptoms of womb cancer are vaginal bleeding after the menopause and bleeding from the vagina between periods.
The survey results showed that over half of women find it easy to talk to their female friends about gynaecological health concerns, and more than a third saying the same of their sister.