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Trouble down below…

One of the recent episodes of Inside Health on Radio 4 had an interesting piece by Margaret McCartney about the confusing names children are taught to use for their genitals.

As a mother to a very inquisitive toddler, I listened intrigued and … hmm … somewhat embarrassed.

According to Margaret McCartney, recent studies show that only a minority of children know what penis, vagina or anus mean. There is no problem with any other body organs and it is only the genitals that parents go all coy about …

The names that children are taught to use are, to name just a few, floral, petal and fluff for girls and wee man, pipi and privates for boys. On an even more amusing note, one GP was left totally perplexed on hearing a parent’s instructions to “show the doctor your twinkle”… No wonder McCartney strongly advocates against using such a confusing array of words.

Certain words are used to describe more than one genital organ which can cause problems in diagnosing and treating various medical conditions.

For minimal fuss and maximum clarity, McCartney recommends equipping our children with a suitably illustrated lexicon so that they can learn the proper names.

After this very educating programme, I was about to get myself to the nearest bookstore when I heard a very well respected gastroenterologist referring to anus as the tail end in the next programme. McCartney would not be happy!

Alex is a specialist medical negligence solicitor.

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