Martin Whitfield MSP is joining charity, The Eve Appeal, in urging people to get lippy and loud during May.
It follows survey findings showing that only 7% of people had knowledge of gynaecological symptoms before they or a loved one experienced them.
The Eve Appeal conducted the survey to launch its annual fundraising and awareness-raising campaign Get Lippy, which runs throughout May.
Nearly 4 in 10 surveyed wished they had been taught more about the gynaecological symptoms to look out for. Meanwhile, over a third of them (35%) wished they had been taught more about gynaecological health conditions.
Also significant was the lack of knowledge about Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and cervical screening, the test which looks for the virus and helps prevent cervical cancer from developing. HPV is responsible for 99.8% of cases of cervical cancer. It is also responsible for nearly 70% of cases of vulval cancer and over half of vaginal cancers.
Less than a quarter of women surveyed felt they had a good understanding of cervical screening before it happened to them or a friend or family member (23%). Only 5% of women said they had a good understanding of HPV.
HPV is an extremely common virus which can be contracted by any skin-to-skin sexual contact. Usually, people’s immune systems can clear the virus on their own. However, high-risk HPV infections which do not clear can lead cells to turn cancerous. The national HPV vaccination programme targets certain strains of HPV to reduce the risk of related cancers developing.
Martin Whitfield MSP said:
“Many gynaecological cancers are preventable and treatment is more likely to be successful if caught early. However, research shows that too many people are either unaware of gynaecological symptoms or, even if they are, may feel too embarrassed to seek help.
“I welcome The Eve Appeal’s Get Lippy campaign. Everyone should be encouraged to talk about gynaecological issues to help raise awareness and confidence in dealing with these subjects.”
Athena Lamnisos, The Eve Appeal CEO, said:
“These results highlight a worrying gap in both knowledge and awareness. When it comes to health issues, we know that fear, stigma and embarrassment are reduced when a subject is normalised and understood – that basic health education needs to start at an early age.
“That’s why Get Lippy is such an important campaign – we need to help everyone have normal conversations about gynaecological issues. Knowing basic information about signs, symptoms and cancer risk factors such as the HPV virus, is vital to supporting people to keep themselves well.”
Find out more about the campaign and how to get involved at www.getlippy.org.uk.