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Women want an end to taboos surrounding the vagina

25 Jun 2004
Women want a more open and enlightened public dialogue about the vagina. Nine out of ten women feel society regards the vagina as shameful, seven out of ten believe taboos contribute to womens ignorance and nearly half think the vagina is the part of the body that women know least about. But women almost universally would like more information about the vagina.

The findings are revealed in the International Vagina Dialogue Survey - a survey of over 9,400 women investigating womens attitudes, perceptions and knowledge about the vagina commissioned by Organon, developer of NuvaRing - the first once-a-month vaginal ring contraceptive. [1]

Although 95% of the women surveyed believe it is important women are well informed about the vagina and 87% believe that greater understanding will help improve sexual satisfaction, only 26% of women consider themselves very knowledgeable. Women also frequently lack confidence in vaginal matters 61% of women have concerns about the appearance of their genitalia, and nearly half about vaginal size.

Society has got to change its attitude to the vagina and frankly grow up. Women are undoubtedly hungry for knowledge but public barriers to discussing the vagina and societys taboos contribute to their lack of knowledge and anxieties, said Belgium sexologist-psychologist, Ms Goedele Liekens presenting the findings for the first time at the 8th congress of the European Society of Contraception in Edinburgh today. [2] It is time to start a more open and enlightened vaginal dialogue.

The survey also highlighted that few women have any inhibitions in relation to the vagina on a personal level. Nearly nine out of ten are comfortable talking about the vagina with their sexual partner; three-quarters of women have examined their vagina with a hand mirror; and most are comfortable inserting something (such as a finger or tampon) into the vagina. Most women agree that medical products that need to be inserted in the vagina are easy to use. Nevertheless, more than half of all women said they were uncomfortable talking to a health care professional about vagina-related health matters.

The fact that most women are uncomfortable discussing the vagina with a medical professional given its central role in their reproductive and sexual health is nonsensical and no doubt contributes to the many myths that exist about the vagina. The more educated and better informed women are about their bodies, the better, commented gynecologist Dr Raquel Arias (University of Southern California School of Medicine, USA).

She added Vaginal methods of contraception, like NuvaRing, offer many benefits that other contraceptive products cant match. Importantly, the new findings show that few women have concerns about medical products that are administered vaginally, but there is a need for greater vaginal knowledge and dialogue. These tallies with my own experience which indicates that women do have questions relating to the practicalities of vaginal drug administration and vaginal health in general, but once they try NuvaRing, they greatly appreciate its convenience and ease-of-use.

Dr Henk Jan Out, Organon, Senior Director Medical Services, Contraception, added: We hope the results will help tackle some of the taboos surrounding the vagina head on and empower women to better understand their own bodies.

About the vaginal ring

Organons vaginal ring, NuvaRing, is a new once-a-month method of ultra-low dose hormonal contraception that is used to prevent pregnancy. The flexible vaginal ring which is inserted and removed by the woman herself is easy to use, highly reliable and well tolerated. After three months of use more than 80% of women preferred this method over other methods of contraception, including the Pill.

Organon Boilerplate:

Organon - headquartered in Roseland, NJ, USA - creates and markets prescription medicines that improve the health and quality of human life. Through a combination of independent growth and business partnerships, Organon strives to become or remain one of the leading pharmaceutical companies in each of its core therapeutic fields: reproductive medicine, psychiatry and anesthesia.

Organon products are sold in over 100 countries, of which more than 60 have an Organon subsidiary. Organon is the human health care business unit of Akzo Nobel.

1. Based on an international survey of 9,441 women aged 18 to 44 years in 13 countries conducted during April/May 2004. The online survey was conducted by Harris Interactive (HI) Europe for Organon. Further information is available in a background sheet.

2. The 8th European Society of Contraception Congress is currently taking place in Edinburgh, UK (23 June- 26 June). The aim of the society is to drive and facilitate knowledge and use of contraception and reproductive health. The title of the congress is A holistic approach to sexual health: is it needed, appropriate and possible?

N.V. Organon (Communications)
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5342 CC Oss
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