Going to the gynecologist can feel like a daunting experience, and not everyone feels comfortable discussing issues that feel private and sometimes scary. However, you're probably not the only one wondering about what's going on with your reproductive health, and there a number of
questions to ask your gynecologist some may feel are "embarrassing." Thankfully, your doctor is used to these questions, and they don't want you to feel ashamed or afraid to ask about them.
"Let’s face it, many people are reluctant to ask questions that may be deeply private or personal to them," Michael Troy, M.D., an OB/GYN with the
Institute for Women’s Health, tells Bustle. "But trust me — there’s probably nothing you can ask your gynecologist that we haven’t heard already. We encourage our patients to work up the courage and have an honest conversation with us. It helps us treat our patients better, it creates a more comprehensive health picture and, most importantly, it allows you to get the answers you’re seeking from a trusted and professional source."
Our bodies are complicated, so don't be ashamed if you tend to have a lot of questions about your health. Here are 11 of the most "embarrassing" questions gynecologists get asked the most, that you don't need to feel embarrassed to ask.
"Does My Vagina Look Normal?"
There is no normal standard for a vagina, because not one looks like the other, nor are they meant to, says Troy. "There are many ways a vagina can look different, from labia length to clitoral prominence and skin coloration. If you’re worried about the appearance of your vagina, the odds are very likely you’re the only one who’s noticing what you perceive as 'different,'" says Troy.
But if you truly feel there may be an issue, Troy says to speak with your OB/GYN to discuss your vaginal health, and how they can help.
"What Is That Bump Down There?"
All sorts of bumps can happen near your vagina or labia, but that doesn't mean you should panic. However, you should always get it checked out if it's bothering you or appears unusual. "There are different reasons for new appearing bumps,"
Dr. Christine Greves, a certified obstetrician and gynecologist at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies, tells Bustle. "Sometimes, they can be because of shaving, called folliculitis. However, sometimes, they can be the result of getting skin tags, sebaceous cysts, gentle warts, herpes, etc. It just depends on how long you have noticed it, whether it has pain, the color, etc."
"What Can I Do About Vagina Sweat?"
If you are worrying about "vaginal sweat," speaking with your doctor can help clear up your concerns
. "Patients often confuse natural vaginal discharge with actual sweat, which can happen around the pelvic region," says Troy. "A certain amount of discharge is typical and, depending on the time of the month, may be different in amount or consistency. If a patient is sweating through their clothes, however, they may have a condition called truncal hyperhidrosis, which can be treated through topical ointments or with injections such as Botox." Of course, this may not be the case, but if you have cause for concern, being open with your OB/GYN about your health can help you find solutions and ease your stress.
"Why Do I Get Vaginal Discharge?"
Experts say vaginal discharge is typically a normal part of your reproductive health.
However, there are are some times you might want to get it checked out, especially if it is causing you discomfort, pain, or itching. "If your discharge is associated with itching and has a white cottage cheese appearance, then that would lead us towards thinking that you may have a yeast infection," says Greves. "If you have a grayish and thin type of discharge that has a fishy odor especially after sex, then that could lead us towards thinking that you can have bacterial vaginosis. All of this requires an exam usually though because we need to make sure that there are not any other types of infections causing it like gonorrhea, chlamydia, or trichomoniasis, all of which are transmitted by sex." Again, no reason to panic, but consulting with your doctor is the quickest way to receive a diagnosis, and maintain your vagina health.
"Is It Normal For My Vagina To Have An Odor?"
There's no need to worry if your vagina has a particular scent. "When you’re on your period or after a vigorous workout, it is completely normal to detect an odor from your vagina,"
Dr. Kelly Kasper, OB/GYN at IU Health, tells Bustle. "But, if there isn’t pain associated with the odor, or the smell isn’t offensive or foul-smelling discharge is present, you shouldn’t be concerned. If you do encounter one of the previously mentioned instances, then you should consult with your doctor to rule out a vaginal infection."
"Is It Normal To Urinate When I Laugh Or Cough?"
women ask about urination from laughing, coughing, or even jumping up and down. This is common in women who have given birth, but it also can happen to women without children as well. "There is such a thing called incontinence, caused by either a direct bladder issue," by issues with the muscles supporting the bladder says Gaither. If this becomes an issue for you, seek out your doctor and know it's not uncommon.
You should never be afraid to ask your doctor about pain during sex. "This could be due to a number of factors, including infection, lack of lubrication,
psychological [reasons], or uterine fibroids," Dr. Kecia Gaither, OB/GYN tells Bustle. "Whatever the cause, sex shouldn’t be painful, and an evaluation is essential to find the cause." Many women experience pain during sex, and your doctor can be there to help find a solution, and make sex more comfortable for you.
"Why Is It So Hard For Me To Orgasm?"
"How Do I Know What Lubricant To Use?"
If you feel dry during sex, it is important that you recognize it so you can take the proper steps to avoid tearing, says Greves. "Water-based lubricants that are plain are usually the first types of lubricants that I recommend," she says. "I recommend that my patients stay away from lubricants that have a particular flavor or warming sensation in case they are extra sensitive and become irritated after sex."
"How Do I Know If I Have An STD?"
Many women ask how they can tell if they have an STI
by looking at themselves, but only a doctor can make a confirmed diagnosis. "Sometimes, you can be exposed to sexually transmitted infections and not even know it," says Greves. "For example, a person can have herpes, but no lesions, but still shed the virus, which means you can get it. Also, sometimes you can be exposed to chlamydia or gonorrhea, for example, and sometimes you may not notice a change in your body. That’s why it is important to discuss one’s sexual history and get a laboratory evaluation before having sex with someone, etc. Condoms do not always protect from diseases." This way, you can look after your own health, as well as the health of your future partners'.
"Can I Have Sex While Pregnant?"
You're not the only one wondering if you can still have sex after you've conceived. "This depends on whether there are any issues precluding sex, such as
placenta previa," says Gaither. This is a condition where the placenta covers most, or all of a woman's cervix, and causes bleeding throughout the pregnancy. "Asking your physician is the correct approach to make sure you aren’t jeopardizing your pregnancy in any manner. If your provider gives you the go ahead, then go ahead and enjoy."
Although it might be uncomfortable asking your doctor something so personal and detailed, there is no need to feel discouraged from asking. Not only has your doctor heard it all before, they're there to help you.