Show of hands; did you get to learn about vulval and vaginal anatomy and intimate health at secondary school? The answer is, shockingly, most likely not. To shine a light on everything you should have learnt at school, Canesten has launched their ‘The Truth, Undressed’ programme and are here to tell you all about it.
The Data That May Surprise You
Research shows only 6% of UK women (aged 16-55) found out about intimate health conditions through school and university education and just under two thirds (60%) only found out about vaginal infections when they first experienced them.
Another study also revealed 46% of UK women (aged 18-24) are worried about the appearance of their vulva (the external part of a females genitals) and 67% admitted they would change something about it if they could. This can lead to feelings of shame, with over half (55%) admitting that they avoided going to seek medical help due to feeling embarrassed to discuss the issue or show their vulva.
Canesten ‘The Truth, Undressed’
These stats are why Canesten, the nation’s intimate health brand expert, has launched ‘The Truth, Undressed’ – an education-at-scale programme designed to help young people find the facts, stop speculation and fight shame and societal stigma surrounding this subject.
By teaming up with national curriculum body The PSHE Association, a new series of teaching resources have been created for use in secondary schools (for ages 11-18). In addition, Canesten has launched a dedicated fact-based hub and social videos to empower us all with greater knowledge and access to this vital health information.
The content includes an accurate, diverse and non-sexualised portrayal of vulvas, pubic hair and true-to-life depictions of vaginal discharge intended to break down stereotypes and stigma and free people from shame and discomfort.
On TikTok, there are also video ads showing what can happen when people can’t find answers to their questions, or worse still, harmful misinformation. On Instagram, the ads use common visual metaphors for vaginas, vulvas and pubic hair to drive home the ways that nothing compares to reality when you’re trying to learn.
Discover more with Superdrug & Canesten
Exclusive to Superdrug shoppers, this positive social-change work has been signposted within the health aisles at select stores via QR codes and on our site online to take you straight to Truthundressed.co.uk to discover more.
Daria Costantini, Brand Lead for Canesten, Bayer Consumer Health UK said: “The truth of the female anatomy is dressed up in a societal culture of sex and defined as explicit by default. We live in a world where porn is readily available on the internet, yet many young people don’t know the first thing about what kinds of infections there are or even what the vulva is supposed to look like.“
“We hope that through this programme we can start to move imagery of real vulvas away from a sexualised depiction and into an informative, educational space to equip young people with the essential information they need to better understand their bodies as well as normalise conversations .”
Canesten is continuing with its mission to break down the social taboos when it comes to intimate health. This work is a giant leap forward as it provides teachers with the tools and resources to teach young people in their existing educational environment, helping the next generation understand the importance of knowing their bodies and, importantly, that it is good to talk about it.
 1,600 women, Canesten WIH Path to Purchase study, conducted by Truth, 2019
 Survey of 1,000 UK women (aged 18-24) – ‘Different Is Normal’ research by Canesten and sexual health charity Brook, conducted by 3GEM October 2020