Despite the popularity of the play The Vagina Monologues, many of us are uncomfortable discussing our vaginas and related vaginal issues with others. Everything from vaginal discharge to yeast infections to UTI's are either whispered about or simply Googled instead of talked about openly. Google, however, is not a trusted confidante.
In order to demystify some issues surrounding women's vaginal health, we're here to answer some of the questions you're too embarrassed to ask out loud.
8 Questions You're Too Embarrassed to Ask About Your Vagina
Here in the office, we've heard (and answered!) it all. Here are some of the more common questions we deal with.
Can I see my OB/GYN when I'm on my period, or should I wait?
OB/GYN's are in near-universal agreement on this one. You absolutely should not cancel your appointment because you're on your period.
Insider interviewed a few doctors on this subject, and Dr. Jacoby, MD, speaks for all of us on this one:
"Remember, I'm an obstetrician — I help women give birth. I've seen a fair share of blood," she says. "I prefer my patients keep their appointments."
Should I shave or wax before my visit?
Deciding to shave or wax any part of your body is a personal decision.
In all honesty, your OB/GYN is unlikely even to notice whether you've shaved or waxed.
- Appointments are brief and focused
- Doctors are honing their attention on specific areas of your body
- Many women don't shave/wax on principle, and we don't keep track of who's who
If shaving makes you feel more comfortable and confident, go for it. If not having shaved raises concerns as to how your OB/GYN will feel, don't worry about it. We're not bothered either way!
Is discharge normal?
In most cases, vaginal discharge is totally normal.
The amount can vary, as can odor and color (which can range from clear to a milky white-ish), depending on the time in your menstrual cycle. For example, there will be more discharge when you're ovulating, breastfeeding, or sexually aroused. It may smell different when you're pregnant or you've been letting your personal hygiene slide. (WebMD)
If you see rapid, unusual changes in your discharge, however, particularly if accompanied by itching or burning, you'll want to consult a professional.
Why does my vagina smell? Is there anything I can do to fix that?
Vaginal odor could arise from a variety of causes. Many are totally natural.
- Phases of your menstrual cycles
- Recently having had sex
- Tampon left in too long
- Poor hygiene
Attending to timely personal hygiene solves most of these issues.
Some odors, however, point to something more serious.
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Rectovaginal fistula
- Cervical/vaginal cancers
A good rule of thumb: if you're experiencing vaginal odor with no other symptoms, it's likely not anything abnormal.
If you're experiencing discomfort, burning, pain, or any other symptoms along with a new/unexpected odor, contact your OB/GYN right away.
Sometimes it's itchy down there? Should I be concerned?
Like vaginal odors, the root causes of vaginal itching could be simple or serious.
Most vaginal itching isn't a cause for concern.
- Soaps, fabrics, and other irritants can cause itching
- Vaginal dryness might be to blame
In other cases, you could be dealing with
- Skin diseases
- Yeast infections
- Vulvar cancer
The best way to determine the root cause of your vaginal itching is to consult with an OB/GYN.
How often should I get a pelvic exam and a Pap test?
At least once a year, women should have a Wellness Exam at which your doctor will check your blood pressure and weight, screen for sexually transmitted infections, counsel on healthy living, address reproductive and gynecological issues, check your uterus and ovaries, as well as perform a breast exam.
While there are some exceptions to this, as a general rule, it's recommended that all women have a pelvic exam once a year and a Pap test every three years.
Fortunately, if you're seeing your doctor every year for a Wellness Exam, the office can help you keep track of when each test is needed.
Is it normal to feel as if I have to pee during sex?
Feeling as if you have to pee during sex is not uncommon. In some cases, this is because sex puts pressure on the bladder.
There are other factors to consider, however.
Weak pelvic floor muscles (say hi to kegels) may also be the culprit behind that need-to-pee feeling. According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly one quarter of women in the United States are affected by pelvic floor disorders, leading to incontinence, general discomfort, and a need for reduced activity. (Women's Health)
If the issue is constant and distracting, consider talking to your OB/GYN. It's rare, but it could be that you're dealing with some sort of infection that's exacerbating the problem.
Will I get a UTI if I don't pee after sex?
Peeing after sex is actually really important, and it's good if you can get into the habit of doing this whenever you can.
Sexual intercourse can introduce bacteria into your urethra, and peeing is thought to help flush that bacteria away before it reaches the bladder and/or has much of a chance to do damage to your system.
While peeing after sex has been proven to lower your chances of contracting a urinary tract infection, you won't automatically develop one if you don't pee immediately after sex every time.
Staying well-hydrated is a good idea for a lot of reasons, and one definite positive effect is that you won't have to worry about having to force yourself ot pee after sex. You can just naturally wait for your body to do its thing on its own schedule.
The Women's Clinic Can Help
If you have questions or concerns about vaginal issues, or if you would like to talk about any other health needs, please feel free to contact us here at The Women's Clinic.
We look forward to meeting you, answering your questions, and serving you in any way necessary.
Schedule your appointment today!