ONE in five women think you pee through your vagina – and doctors warn the confusion could lead to delays in cancer diagnoses.

A worrying new survey by YouGov found that 18 per cent of women didn't know that menstruation and urination involve different holes.

Medical professionals said that helping patients to express their thoughts or clearly describe their symptoms results in better care.

Yet women don’t have the right language to talk about their bodies with doctors – and can often be embarrassed during consultations.

Not knowing the correct terminology to describe the female anatomy could also lead to confusion with other conditions, such as endometriosis, STIs or thrush, medics say.

It could also lead to delayed diagnosis of gynae cancers, which include womb, ovarian, cervical, vulval and vaginal.

Get Lippy

The Eve Appeal, the UK's leading gynaecological cancer charity, is working to make conversations between patients and healthcare professionals easier.

Today they launched their Get Lippy campaign to provide women with the right information and confidence to talk clearly about their anatomy to better diagnose key health concerns.

Athena Lamnisos, chief executive of The Eve Appeal, says: “Doctors have on average 10 minutes with a patient.

"We want to make sure those minutes are well used to diagnose cancer at the earliest stage.

"Women should feel comfortable to talk about their health and confident to have a conversation with their doctor.

"To do this, we need to make sure women have the information and confidence they need to have a conversation about their symptoms.

"That’s what GET LIPPY is here to do: get those conversations going and make them count.”

Shake the stigma

Health minister Jackie Doyle-Price said that it is vital something is done to shake the stigma and help women feel more comfortable.

She said: “Awareness of the five gynaecological cancers is very low but, together, they are the fourth most common cancers affecting women, with 58 women receiving a diagnosis each day.

"Research the Eve Appeal is doing into early detection and prevention is incredibly important but it can only be effective if women feel comfortable talking with their medical professional.

"It’s vital we do something about this culture of stigma now and we help women feel comfortable in that situation and can identify their anatomy correctly.”


  • Know your menstrual cycle – and if your periods have stopped, note down when your last period was. Periods are a crucial part of a gynae consultation. Know what’s normal for you and what isn’t
  • Think about how symptoms are affecting your life and what you do/can’t do because of them
  • Know the name of your contraceptive pill and how long you have been taking it for. Remind yourself of the names of any other medication that you take regularly
  • Don’t be afraid to say: Should I be examined / I don’t mind being examined. Suggesting it can make for a better consultation and will signal to the GP that you understand that it may be needed and is not a problem for you
  • Try to be clear in your own mind about when your symptoms started and include all of them. Timeline of symptoms is very important to a doctor when assessing what a condition could be
  • Know when your last cervical screen was – the GP may not have a record if it was done elsewhere
  • Ask for a female doctor if you prefer, or a double appointment if you think it will give you more time and comfort to open up. If it helps you to bring someone to the appointment with you, this is also fine
  • Get clued up on the right vocabulary to explain your problem. It can be difficult for your GP if you refer to your ‘bits’ or your ‘waterworks’
  • Know when the doctor wants to follow up if things haven’t improved. Gynae symptoms that go on and on must be followed up so ask your doctor when to book a review appointment.
  • If you can, think ahead about your appointment and what will make you feel more at ease. Don’t decline an examination because you’ve not waxed, shaved or think your vulva doesn’t look ‘normal’ or any other reasons that you may feel are embarrassing. Healthcare professionals don’t notice and don’t mind and would always rather you have the examination or screening test you need

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Dr Ellie Cannon, NHS GP, says: “Some gynaecological symptoms can be vague and hard to describe and it’s easy to see why some might be embarrassing to talk about.

"But we want to get the most out of the time we have with a patient in primary care.

"Come on everyone, get clued up on the right vocabulary to explain your problem.

"A lump in your vagina is very different to a lump on your vulva – make sure you can explain the difference.”

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