Why Health Literacy is Self-Care

October 22, 2021

Did you know that millions of women in America don’t know where their vagina is? This finding comes from a poll conducted last year that found that 25% of U.S. women didn’t know where their own vagina was. Additional data from the poll suggested that 49% of women could not identify the cervix on an anatomical model, and 59% named a different body part when asked to identify the uterus.

Unfortunately, this knowledge gap seemed to be just as steep with men— only 50% could identify the vagina on an anatomical model in a UK study. This lack of knowledge is consistent with having low health literacy, which if not improved, can lead to an increased risk of mortality and serious illness.

October is Health Literacy month. Health Literacy may sound complicated, but it’s really simple. Think of it as another form of self-care.

At its core, health literacy is about improving health knowledge. This means knowing where you can access healthcare services and how your body performs when it’s healthy — so this month is the perfect time to brush up on your health facts and anatomical knowledge. Knowing the location and normal function of your reproductive parts is key to being able to properly identify and communicate a concern to your doctor, partner, or trusted adult.

It’s also important to remember that you can ask your doctor questions during a check-up or consultation. Don’t be afraid to express yourself — whether that means asking your doctor for clarification on a condition or treatment option, or if that means discussing what birth control method aligns with your life and health goals.

You can also take the time this month to find your nearest clinic or complete your yearly OB-GYN or urologist check up. During your appointment, you can practice asking your doctor questions about your body, and learn new ways to monitor your sexual health.

By improving your health knowledge, you are ensuring your current and future health and wellness, while also building self-confidence. It’s a win-win! We’ve featured a few Instagram accounts you can follow for more ways to stay healthy and health literate.

Why Health Literacy is Self-Care - Fact Not Fiction