1 In 3 Irish Women Self-Diagnose When Experiencing Intimate Health Issues

New research reveals insights into Irish women’s attitudes towards intimate health



  • Nearly 1 in 4 respondents have a pet name for their intimate area, with respondents choosing Vajayjay (22%) and Hooha (16%) as the names most likely to use.
  • 55% of Irish women surveyed were educated on female intimate health (e.g. periods, , thrush, BV, STI’s) by their Mum
  • 96% of Irish women believe there should be more education at a young age on intimate health
  • Over two thirds of women are embarrassed discussing intimate health issues with a GP or pharmacist
    • 85% of women surveyed consider their intimate health more important than their external appearance


A recent survey of over 1,000 women across Ireland*, has shown that almost two thirds of Irish women are uncomfortable having a conversation about their intimate health with their GP or pharmacist. The survey also found that one-third of women “tend to self-diagnose using google”, and 13% of women surveyed “wait until symptoms disappear” when experiencing intimate health problems. Only 7% of respondents stated that they go straight to their pharmacist for advice.

The survey, conducted by Bayer, questioned women about their intimate health and general confidence levels. Only half of women surveyed would describe themselves as mainly a confident person, with 38% describing themselves as confident “sometimes, but not often”.

The research was done as part of the #BeVConfident campaign, designed to lift the taboo surrounding women’s intimate health, and educate women about common conditions like bacterial vaginosis (BV) and thrush. It is evident from the survey that a change in attitude and behavior is needed when it comes to these issues. It’s important that women seek advice from their pharmacist if experiencing any BV symptoms. The condition, if untreated, can be a risk during pregnancy, cause infertility and lead to preterm pregnancy.



96% of women surveyed believed that there should be more education at a young age on intimate health. The age at which Irish women learned about intimate health varies dramatically. 9% of respondents learned about intimate health when aged 18 or older, compared to one third of women who learned between the ages of 10 to 12.

When asked to rate their female health education, responses varied widely from poor (15%), excellent (17%), very good (33%), good (31%) and non-existent (3%).

It seems that Mum does know best, with 55% of Irish women being educated on female intimate health by their Mum, more than any other form of education. While 52% of women received an education on intimate health through school, the media also hold influence on young women with 30% of respondents being educated through magazines and a further 30% online.



69% of women feel embarrassed to varying degrees about discussing their intimate health with their GP or pharmacist, and 18% of women surveyed would be embarrassed if a close friend or sister discussed their intimate health with them. Of those surveyed, 11% of women do not discuss their intimate health with those closest to them at all; friends, siblings, parents or a partner.

Women are less embarrassed when purchasing tampons or sanitary towels than they are vaginal treatments, with 45% of women saying they feel embarrassed purchasing OTC treatments, versus 9% embarrassed to purchase tampons and 11% embarrassed to purchase sanitary towels. Despite this, the vast majority of women surveyed regard internal health as their main intimate health concern (85%) more than external appearance (11%).



82% of women surveyed groom their intimate area, with 59% of these respondents saying their reason for doing so was to feel cleaner, 21% for aesthetics, and 13% for their partner.

Only half of women surveyed would describe themselves as mainly a confident person, with 38% describing themselves as confident “sometimes, but not often”. The majority of women said that their appearance was their main reason for not feeling confident (68%), while workplace performance (8%), family background (8%) and relationship status (6%) were cited as other factors.

Speaking about the survey results, Pharmacist and campaign spokesperson, Maria Oxley Boardman (mPharm), said “Bacterial vaginosis (BV) and thrush are two common conditions affecting women’s intimate health. BV affects approximately 57% of women, is caused by an imbalance of the bacteria in the vagina and is best treated through an over the counter treatment. The research shows that the majority of women feel embarrassed talking about intimate health in many situations. Women need to be empowered and have the correct information to dispel the myths surrounding intimate health. We need to be encourage women to be more confident so they can become more assured in seeking a diagnosis and treating their own intimate health issues.”

For women who are unsure if they have BV or thrush, Canestest is an innovative and reliable self-test allowing women to determine which vaginal infection they are suffering from in just 10 seconds and treat it quickly and effectively. A simple swab and a colour change will indicate reliably whether the cause of their discomfort is Thrush or BV. If women have BV, Canesbalance offers a treatment with a triple benefit. It effectively relieves the unpleasant odour and abnormal discharge, it restricts bad bacteria and supports good bacteria, restoring the natural environment. If women have thrush they are best ask their pharmacist for a combination treatment to treat thrush internally and externally.


Canestest and Canesbalance are available in pharmacies nationwide.

For more information, visit www.intimatehealth.ie



What is the difference between BV and Thrush?


While both thrush and bacterial vaginosis (BV) are very common, they are two different types of infections and you need to treat them differently. Thrush is caused by an overgrowth of the yeast (candida albicans) which often leads to symptoms such as itchiness, soreness or a white discharge. BV is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria regularly found in your vagina. BV symptoms usually include a fishy odour and a greyish-white, watery discharge. BV does not usually cause any vaginal soreness or itching. With Canestest, you can test before you treat so you know you’re using the right treatment for your infection.


Bayer: Science For A Better Life


Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the Life Science fields of health care and agriculture. Its products and services are designed to benefit people and improve their quality of life. At the same time, the Group aims to create value through innovation, growth and high earning power. Bayer is committed to the principles of sustainable development and to its social and ethical responsibilities as a corporate citizen. In fiscal 2016, the Group employed around 115,200 people and had sales of EUR 46.8 billion. Capital expenditures amounted to EUR 2.6 billion, R&D expenses to EUR 4.7 billion. These figures include those for the high-tech polymers business, which was floated on the stock market as an independent company named Covestro on October 6, 2015. For more information, go to www.bayer.com

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