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The anatomical differences between male and female have often been met with prejudices and misunderstandings. Even today, this cultural heritage may lead females to develop negative attitudes towards their genitals.
In most societies, both boys and girls are reared to regard their genitals with shame or disgust. Both, at times may be reprimanded for expressing normal curiosity about them. They may be regarded with a “hands-off attitude” to keep their private parts private even to themselves. Similarly, the physical changes of puberty may be occurring even before an adolescent knows what these are or that these are normal. In fact, many adolescents may be uninformed, misinformed, or downright frightened by the unexpected changes in their bodies. There are countless stories of girls who think they are dying when they get their first menstruation because nobody has prepared them. Girls especially may have absorbed messages that their genitals are dirty and shouldn’t be looked at or touched, feelings that are detrimental to sexual health and the development of a satisfying and safe sexual life.