Your 10 Most Embarrassing Health Questions – Answered
Posted by Girls Guide To on June 7, 2012 at 11:44 AM
Do most meals leave you gassy? Noticing an odd bump? Worried about dryness…down there?
I’ve been there: You schedule the doctor’s appointment, give yourself a pep-talk in the waiting room, then get tongue-tied as soon as the doctor walks in. But seriously, there’s no need to be shy about telling your doc.
It’s just like your bikini waxer. Nothing you can say about your body will shock or embarrass your doctor. And when it itches, hurts, smells, bleeds or just doesn’t feel normal, you usually need a doctor’s help to get better.
Talking to your doctor can calm fears and get the problem treated. Plus, if a serious health condition is causing symptoms, early diagnosis is critical.
Read on for LifeScript’s doctors’ answers to 12 embarrassing questions women are scared to ask.
1. How do I stop sweating so much?
Although stained, soggy clothes are a drag, sweat is necessary to regulate body temperature. But some people have it worse than others.
Look for an over-the-counter antiperspirant that contains 12% aluminum chloride, which essentially forms a plug to keep any wetness from coming out. If that doesn’t keep you dry, a doctor can prescribe an antiperspirant with 20% aluminum chloride.
If you want to call out the big guns, there’s always Botox. Yep, that Botox. Onabotulinum toxin A blocks the body’s release of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that sends signals to sweat glands to produce moisture. Sorry for the science lesson, but basically if sweat glands don’t get the “make sweat” message, they don’t. Botox leaves you sweat-free for up to six months.
2. What can I do about my stinky feet?
Sweat + bacteria = foot odor. And if yours is particularly bad, blame genetics.
Try these tips for fresher feet:
- Wash with an antibacterial soap to reduce bacteria.
- Use the same high-powered antiperspirant with aluminum chloride recommended for underarm wetness. Apply before bed to give it time to plug up your foot’s sweat glands. (In the morning, you’ll walk on it, which can wipe away the active ingredient.)
If all else fails, Botox works on feet too.
3. Why are my breasts different sizes?
Newsflash: The girls rarely match.
Usually it’s just a subtle difference, but sometimes breasts vary by a whole cup size.
Breast shape and symmetry depend on tissue, fat distribution and bra support. And here’s a fun fact: Your size can change daily with estrogen levels, pregnancy and breastfeeding.
4. What can I do to feel “fresh” down there?
Everyday sweat and menstrual blood can create vaginal odors. The fix? A warm shower.
Avoid scented washes, douches, wipes, sprays and panty liners that promise to leave you smelling like a rose. They’re unnecessary and lead to infections.
Douching is also out, because it changes the vagina’s acidity and allows bacteria to overgrow. It can even push abnormal bacteria into your uterus and reproductive organs. Scary.
5. Is my vaginal discharge normal?
If it’s clear with no scent or a slight musky odor, relax. It’s probably related to your cycle. Some women get a discharge when they’re ovulating, and that’s normal.
Other kinds of discharge usually signal an infection and should be evaluated by your gyno.
Here are the most common:
- If you’re itchy and the discharge is white with a cottage-cheese texture, it could be a yeast infection.
- Fishy-smelling discharge, along with pain or irregular bleeding, can signal a bacterial infection. Those are usually caused by regular douching or wiping back to front after going to the bathroom.
- Foul-smelling discharge can also be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea or trichomonas.
6. Are those tiny bumps on my privates genital warts?
That depends on their look and feel. Waxing or shaving can create harmless red pimples or whiteheads in your bikini region. Usually that’s just a minor hair follicle irritation.But clusters of skin-colored bumps could be genital warts.
Other possible causes are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as syphilis rash or herpes outbreak. Your doctor can diagnose the cause and prescribe treatment.
7. How much sex should couples have?
Let’s all just get this in our heads right now: There is no normal.
In the first three years of a relationship, couples tend to make love 1-3 times a week. In year four, it slips to once a week. And after a baby, it’s more like 1-3 times a month.
But these are averages and many factors affect frequency, including job stress, childrearing, vacations and all of that.
The bottom line: Normal is what’s right for you and your partner.
8. Is pain during sex normal after having a baby?
Sex should never hurt.
But after a vaginal birth, scar tissue that’s more sensitive and less pliable can form where you were stitched up, making sex painful. A lubricant – and time – solves that problem.
Breastfeeding can also trigger sexual discomfort. It lowers estrogen, which dries out the vagina. A lubricant helps here too.
Use a water-based version daily – as you would any other skin moisturizer – to stop vaginal dryness. Because it absorbs into the skin, you might need more lube during sex. If so, switch to a silicone-based lubricant, which isn’t absorbed.
9. Why am I constipated?
It happens to all of us. Medications – including painkillers (prescription and over-the-counter) and antidepressants – can clog up your plumbing. But most likely, constipation means you’re not eating right or moving enough.
To get back on track:
- Aim for 25 grams of fiber a day from fruits, vegetables, whole grains and/or a fiber supplement).
- Exercise at least 30 minutes a day
- Drink at least 4 glasses of water a day, plus an extra glass for each caffeinated beverage you sip.
Over-the-counter laxatives can also help. They stimulate the intestines to contract or soften stools so they're easier to pass. But check with your doctor first to make sure they don’t interfere with other medications you’re taking.
Also, follow the label’s directions on how much laxative you should take, and for how long. Overuse can actually lead to constipation by diminishing the bowels’ natural ability to contract, according to the Mayo Clinic.
10. Why am I so gassy?
Excess gas means you’re eating a healthy, fiber-rich diet; it doesn't signal a disease.
Beans have a well-deserved rep for producing it. Milk, carrots, raisins, bananas, onions, bagels, pretzels – even gum – are other common culprits.
These foods create nitrogen and methane gas in your stomach, which either comes up as a burp or out down below.
Keep a food diary to track what’s triggering your troubles. And swap gas-producing snacks for probiotic yogurt. Made from live micro-organisms, probiotics may help improve digestion by encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria. You can also head to the drugstore for Bean-o, a natural enzyme taken before eating high-fiber foods, and anti-gas remedies containing simethicone (Gas-X, Maalox Anti-Gas, Mylanta Gas Relief). These relieve symptoms like pressure, fullness and bloating.
So next time you have a blush-inducing problem, remember you’re not the only one and trust me, your doctor isn’t going to laugh at you or make you any more uncomfortable than you already are. And really, what’s worse? Living with one of these issues or dealing with moments of embarrassment?