Everyone remembers sitting through biology lessons at school learning about the human body, but most of us don't learn much more about our bodies after that, unless something goes wrong. Our bodies are complex machines, with different parts working together to keep us healthy.
It's easy not to think about changes to your body when things are going well, but it's important to recognise what's normal and what's not – so that you have the confidence to talk about it and seek help when something does change.
That's why Balance Activ have teamed up with Dr Sarah Jarvis to create a video that reminds women of the completely normal changes that will happen to their bodies over the decades. These range from reaching peak bone mass in their 20's to changes in intimate health – it's important for women to 'know your normal', and many women don't.
Research released today by Balance Activ, who surveyed 1,000 men and 1,000 women, reveals how well we really know our bodies (or not, as the case may be). 39 per cent of respondents didn't know the difference between the kidneys and the liver – and a quarter couldn't explain how veins and arteries differ. Most people also don't know the liver is the biggest internal organ – with 41 per cent under the impression that the lungs are.
Despite the huge changes women go through in their lifetime, including periods, pregnancy and menopause, over a third of women surveyed said they are not completely confident they know what their ovaries actually do and over half are not sure they know what happens during menopause. As for men, more than seven in 10 questioned weren't sure what a prostate does.
When asked about vaginal health, six in 10 women didn't know what BV is, even though it is one of the most common conditions and is in fact twice as prevalent as thrush. While around half of women have no idea what the potentially serious implications of leaving it untreated are, more than one in ten said they would use vaginal deodorants, washes or douches to relieve the symptoms – all of these things can actually cause BV rather than treat it.
Dr Jarvis said: "When it comes to intimate health specifically, it is interesting how many people spot that things have changed, or that something doesn't feel quite right and yet often don't seek medical advice for some time. This is often due to a lack of understanding about what is going on and confusion over symptoms which results in a lot of often unnecessary worry. This can have a knock-on effect on our confidence, put pressure on relationships and generally cause a lot of anxiety when in fact it could be something very common and very easy to treat."
Knowledge is key in managing your health and well-being. This is why Balance Activ are working closely with the Intimate Health Taskforce, a panel of healthcare professionals and women that have experienced BV, to provide information and tools to help women understand more about their intimate health. The expert advice, women's real stories and online symptom checker are designed to help reassure women and encourage them to talk openly about any worries they may have with either friends, partners, parents or healthcare professionals to seek further advice and effective treatment if needed.
Visit balanceactiv.com to access information, an online symptom checker and Ask the Expert service to find out more about intimate health.