It’s very common for women (and men) to have questions they’re uncomfortable asking their doctor. Even women who seem to have lots of self-confidence may shy away from certain topics.
It’s important to overcome that discomfort since avoiding an important conversation can allow a minor condition to develop into something more serious. Plus, it’s stressful to have unanswered questions about your body and your health, and nobody needs more stress!
Your Doctor Is Happy to Answer These (and Other) Questions
Below are 10 of the questions that women most commonly hesitate to ask their doctors. General answers are provided here, but you should talk with your doctor about your health in particular, including getting answers to questions not on this list.
- Should I be concerned if I bleed or experience pain during sex?
“Concerned” may be too strong, but you should see your doctor if you have pain during sex or bleeding during or after sex. This can be a sign of an infection, a polyp, endometriosis, or another medical condition. Whatever the cause, steps can be taken to address it, but you’ve got to let your doctor know.
- Is it normal to have a vaginal odor?
Odors are normal in many parts of the body, including the vagina, but they can also be indicators of health problems. For example, a musty smell may simply mean you’ve been sweating, and a chemical smell can be residue from condoms or lubricants after sex. On the other hand, a fishy smell may be a symptom of a bacterial infection and a bread-like smell can indicate you have a yeast infection. Your doctor can help you understand the cause of strong or unfamiliar odors.
- Do I need a pelvic exam every year?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that women 21 years of age and older get an annual pelvic exam, though there’s some disagreement on this point. Your doctor can help you determine what schedule is appropriate for you. But keep in mind that a pelvic exam is important for helping protect your gynecological health.
- Can I have sex while pregnant?
It’s safe for most women to enjoy sex during pregnancy. The mucus plug that develops during pregnancy protects the baby from substances that enter the vagina. However, if you have a history of miscarriages or preterm labor, you should talk with your doctor. They can help you determine what level of sexual activity is right for your safety and that of your unborn baby when you’re pregnant.
- Is it normal that I’ve never had an orgasm?
Up to 7% of women have what’s called women’s orgasmic disorder. This means that they don’t have an orgasm despite being highly sexually aroused. In other words, you’re not alone, but there are therapies your doctor can recommend that might be able to help.
- Why’s my period so long or heavy all the time?
Every woman’s period is different. In most cases, it lasts about eight days. If yours lasts longer or you feel your flow is consistently heavier than other women you know, you should talk with your doctor. This can be a sign of health problems like fibroids. Other symptoms that you should mention if you experience them include severe pain or cramping during your period or bleeding/spotting between periods.
- Is vaginal discharge normal?
The short answer here is that it can be. Some vaginal discharge is normal and healthy, and the amount and consistency may vary during your monthly cycle. However, discharge that’s foul-smelling or white and clumpy may be a sign of an infection, particularly if you experience itching or burning along with it. Your doctor can diagnose this condition and prescribe treatment if needed, so don’t wait to talk with them.
- How will I know when menopause starts?
Some women feel that this is something they should “just know,” but it can be unclear if you’ve entered this normal stage. The average age for the onset of menopause is 51, but perimenopause (the earliest stage of menopause) can start in your 40s and last for years before you enter menopause. If you experience symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, irregular periods, and night sweats, talk with your doctor. They can help you determine where you are on that journey and also offer ways to reduce your symptoms.
- Are my labia normal?
It’s common for women to wonder about the size, shape, colors, and textures of their labia. In almost all cases where there are no signs of infection, the answer is that any combination of characteristics is normal. If you have specific concerns, your doctor can perform an exam. It’s also a good idea to get familiar with your lower anatomy by regularly inspecting your labia, vagina, and other areas using a hand mirror. If you notice significant changes, that may be something to talk with your doctor about.
- What’s this bump on my vagina?
Small cysts, skin tags, and folliculitis (minor infections around hair follicles) are all normal occurrences that can, understandably, cause concern. It’s important to ask your doctor about them, just in case they feel there’s a reason to do an exam or testing.
Again, these are just some of the more common questions that women feel uncomfortable asking their doctors about. It’s important to know you’re encouraged to ask your doctor about any potential health issues.
Be assured: You won’t be the first or the last woman to ask that question!
Learn About Women’s Services at Baptist Health
The skilled and compassionate healthcare professionals on our Women’s Services teams are here to help you with answers to your questions and effective treatments if needed. Learn more about these services today or find a provider near you using our online provider directory.
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