NEW YORK — As men and women mature, they each face unique health challenges that often require seeing a specialist. However, a new study finds one in ten women between 24 and 34 years-old have never been to a gynecologist.
That’s according to new research which finds 12 percent have never once been in a gynecologist’s office, even though health experts say their first visit should come between ages 13 and 15. Check-ups should be annual, but 14 percent of respondents haven’t seen their gynecologist in over two years.
The survey of 2,000 American women between 24 and 34 also reveals that there are gaps in care and knowledge related to vaginal health. The average respondent will ignore noticeable symptoms for five days before making an in-person doctor’s appointment, while nearly one in five (17%) will wait ten days or more.
Tell it to me straight, Dr. Google
Before seeing a professional, many are reaching out to “Dr. Google” for important medical answers. Two in five women name Google as their first port of call over a physician when experiencing discomfort or vaginal health symptoms.
OnePoll researchers, who conducted the research on behalf of RepHresh, discovered the average respondent Googles a sexual health-related question four times a month. That’s 3,024 times in a woman’s adult lifetime.
The top three most commonly Googled phrases and questions respondents needed answers about include: “vaginal discharge” (44%), “do I have a yeast infection?” (39%), and “vaginal odor” (37%). Three in five respondents (61%) blame a “lackluster” sexual education experience in their youth for these knowledge gaps — even though over half the poll (54%) admitted they didn’t take their sexual health seriously while in school.
Of those who feel like their sexual health education failed them, over half wish they had learned more about female pleasure (52%). Another 48 percent think there should have been more time spent learning about female anatomy. Four in 10 women would have liked to have a more in-depth understanding of the menstruation cycle as well.
Still, it’s not too late to turn the tide, since 55 percent of respondents say they’re “on a quest” to educate themselves about their vaginal health.
“According to our survey, 69 percent of women would feel more empowered if they knew more about their bodies. This fact alone reiterates the importance of ensuring all women not only have the resources they need to feel empowered in their bodies, but that they also have access to accurate information about their vaginal health,” says Eileen Hsu, Director of Marketing for RepHresh, in a statement.
Understanding vaginal health may ease fears of seeing gynecologist
One of the topics many women feel completely in the dark about is vaginal pH. Over half the poll (51%) think a vagina should have a “neutral” pH, while only 12 percent correctly identified “moderately acidic” as the ideal pH balance.
Two in five know that unprotected sex could cause the vagina’s pH balance to change, but 39 percent think acidic foods could alter it. One in four (27%) even believe swimming in a chlorinated pool would have an effect.
“It’s clear that there’s a knowledge gap for women when it comes to their vaginal health. I believe all women should advocate for themselves and aim to increase their Vaginal IQ (VQ), so they can approach their vaginal health with more confidence and less fear,” adds Dr. Jacqueline Walters (“Dr. Jackie”), a RepHresh Women’s Health and Wellness Expert.