Vaginas. All women have one—but how comfortable do we really feel about throwing the word around in everyday conversation? According to a survey released Monday, not everybody is cool with saying it out loud.
A survey of 1,000 British women done by Ovarian Cancer Action, a U.K. organization, found that two-thirds of those ages 18 to 24 who participated said they’d be too embarrassed to use the word "vagina" at the doc’s office, compared to just one in ten women over the age of 65 who said the same thing. And 57 percent of the younger women surveyed said they’d rather Google their symptoms than visit an ob-gyn. (And to be clear, we're technically talking about vulvas here, not just vaginas—although the two are used pretty much interchangeably now by most people.)
Ovarian Cancer Action did the survey to encourage younger women to speak up about their gynecological health—and to show that ovarian cancer can happen at any age, not just when you’re older. (According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer is the fifth-leading cancer killer of women in the U.S.)
To see if this was just a British phenomenon, we decided to ask our readers how they feel about the word vagina. Of the 668 women who responded, a whopping 80 percent said they're totally comfortable with it, while 10 percent said they despise the word and make up other terms for it. The remaining 10 percent said they just avoid talking about that part of their body altogether. "'Vagina' is definitely an awkward word to say in a conversation," said one of our readers who took the survey. "If I absolutely have to mention it, I usually try to make it into a joke to alleviate tension. So I'll ironically call it a 'va-jazz' or 'va-jay-jay.' In the bedroom, my go-to word is definitely 'pussy.'"
The creative names our readers said they call their vaginas? Female jewel, the forbidden fruit, greener pasture, ladybug, cupcake, and the land down under, to name a few.
Then we took things a step further and asked Women's Health editors to repeat the word "vagina" aloud and share what other words they like to use to refer to their lady parts (yup, we fully recognize the irony of using a euphemism here). Watch the hilarity that ensued:
"Ultimately, if you need to talk about it and you're uncomfortable saying the word, you should just call it whatever makes you the most comfortable," said one of our editors. "But it is just a vagina." Word.