LIFESTYLE

Third Of British Adults Worry About Genitals Not Being 'Normal'

17/11/2015 09:38 GMT | Updated 17/11/2015 09:59 GMT

More than a third of Brits worry their genitals aren't "normal", a new report has revealed.

The study found that concerns over what genitals look and smell like, as well as worrying about unusual lumps and discharge, is having a serious affect on our sex lives.

It also flagged an alarming disparity between the number of women who are concerned over the appearance of their vaginas, in comparison to men and their penis worries.

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The survey questioned 2,313 Britons (aged 18-30) on their genital worries.

More than a third of respondents believed their private parts weren't normal - 73% of which were female and 27% male.

Their main concerns were:

1. "My genitals look different to those I see online and in the media" (43%)

2. "I always feel as if my smell isn’t normal" / "I don’t know what it’s meant to smell like" (18%)

3. "There are lumps on my genitals and I’m not sure if they’re meant to be there" (13%)

4. "It just doesn’t look attractive to me" (11%)

5. "I’m unsure whether the discharge I have is considered normal or not" (3%)

Respondents were then asked if their concerns ever affected their sex lives - 26% of which said yes.

More than three quarters of those who said they worried about their genitals being "normal" said their worries distracted them so much during sex that they were unable to achieve orgasm.

Michael Ross, spokesperson for MedExpress who conducted the survey, commented: "These results really shocked us as one would like to assume that genital worries and confidence issues end after the period of adolescence.

"It really scares me that adults still compare themselves to the actors that they see in porn films as these are definitely not ‘ideal’ and they shouldn’t be taken seriously.

"It just shows that we still need to learn that genitals come in all forms of different shapes and sizes."

He continued: "Having said that, a number of the results in our study were slightly worrying and probably need to be addressed. If you feel like you might smell or you have a lump or mark ‘down below’, please do book an appointment with your GP or take a trip to your local GUM clinic.

"Even if it does turn out to be nothing, which it probably is, it will reassure you that you are completely normal and healthy and that you shouldn’t let your worries ruin your sex life."

Natika H Halil, chief executive at sexual health charity FPA is not surprised by the survey results as "as a society we’re still not great at talking openly about our own bodies and things which might affect our sexual confidence and pleasure".

"Sexual health professionals have reported more men and women seem to be dissatisfied with their bodies, which in some cases could be linked to comparing themselves to what are portrayed as pornographic ideals, particularly around genital size and a desire to have little or no pubic hair to ‘not be dirty’," she tells HuffPost UK Lifestyle.

"A huge increase in labiaplasty (surgery to reduce the size of the labia, the folds of skin around the vulva) has also, in some cases, been linked to pornography and women thinking they should have genitalia which looks the same as the actors.

"Lots of women are concerned about vaginal discharge, and in many cases don’t know what’s normal and not, what it should look and smell like."

She goes on to explain that vaginal discharge is "perfectly normal" and women may notice that it changes in colour and consistency during their menstrual cycle.

"Some women might be tempted to use perfumed washes and wipes to clean their genital area, in an attempt to mask smells and get rid of discharge. This is unnecessary and could actually be harmful as some products can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina," she says.

"It’s a good idea to use plain, unperfumed soap and water to clean the vulva regularly. Douching, or flushing water into the vagina, can also upset the balance of the normal bacteria, and is unnecessary.

"If women are concerned about a smell or notice a change from their normal discharge, it’s important not to try and mask this. Equally if you notice any unusual lumps or bumps on your genitals, it’s important to see a health professional, as it could be a sign of an infection or other problem."

Halil believes it's really important for men and women to familiarise themselves with their bodies sot that they are aware of any changes.

"It’s also important to remember that everyone is different and people’s genitals vary in appearance – in their shape, size, and colour," she adds.

"It would be great if all young people growing up learnt about this natural variety and weren’t left with worries about how they compare to people they see in the media or pornography."

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