5 questions you’re too shy to ask your gynecologist

5 questions you’re too shy to ask your gynecologist

They’ve heard it all before.

And so, women should feel comfortable talking to and asking questions of their obstetrician/gynecologist. Over the course of a woman’s lifetime, there very likely will be some ‘taboo’ or embarrassing topics that come up. But a good OB/GYN should communicate that what you think might be cringeworthy questions are actually totally appropriate.

Dr. Dipti Patel, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Advocate Dreyer Medical Group in North Aurora and St. Charles, Ill., says there is no such thing as an embarrassing topic when it comes to your gynecology visit. She discusses five common questions that women may be hesitant to ask their doctor.

1. Why is there a ‘funny’ smell down there?

According to Dr. Patel, foul-smelling discharge can be a sign of a vaginal infection. These infections can be caused by something as simple as a change in pH or something serious, such as a sexually transmitted infection. She recommends talking to your physician right away about a smell that is abnormal.

2. What should a woman know about the shape, size and color?

The appearance of a woman’s vulva can differ significantly from one person to another.

“The labia minora, which are commonly referred to as the “inner lips,” come in a variety of shapes,” Dr. Patel says. “Some are small and do not protrude past the labia majora, or outer lips; others can be large and protrude beyond the labia majora. Although this may cause some cosmetic concerns, it does not pose any medical issue.”

3. Is vaginal itching normal?

Dr. Patel says that itching is not normal, and can be a sign of a yeast infection.

“Typically, the signs of a yeast infection include itching, thick white discharge or redness,” she says. “Several conditions that can also present with symptoms of itching are lichen sclerosis, lichen simplex and even skin cancer on the vulva.” Dr. Patel says you should be evaluated by your doctor if you have persistent vaginal itching.

4. How much discharge is normal?

The quantity, color and consistency of discharge vary widely from person to person, Dr Patel says.

“Women should see their gynecologist if their discharge has a foul odor or if a rash, vulvar itching or discomfort accompanies it,” she says. “If your discharge is green and frothy, this can be a sign of a vaginal infection or a sexually transmitted disease and a woman should see their doctor immediately.”

5. Is it safe to have sex on your period?

While having sex on your period may be messy, intercourse during menstruation is safe. However, Dr. Patel encourages women to use contraception because it is still possible to become pregnant while on your period. Dr. Patel explains that some women have long periods that can overlap with ovulation. “Sperm can also survive for up to 5 days,” she says.

“Gynecologists specialize in the female reproductive tract,” says Dr. Patel. “We’ve seen and heard it all; No topic should be off limits. Answering questions is what we’re here for.”

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  1. I think these questions you mention can be uncomfortable to ask your gynecologist, but are very important. If you have a sexually transmitted infection like you mentioned, you shouldn’t feel embarrassed to ask you doctor if something is wrong and how you can treat it. I think more people need to get over their embarrassment and talk about their bodies!

  2. I think it is smart to know what kind of questions to ask. I would like to know what the important things are to have. I think it would be nice to know how everything works out.

  3. Kenneth Gladman June 14, 2017 at 5:04 pm · Reply

    I like that you mentioned how nothing should be off limits to your gynecologist. You want to be totally honest, because they have probably dealt with it before. Open communication is key to your health.

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  6. Tiffany, I love how the first thing you say is that OBGYNs have heard it all before. It makes sense why some women feel uncomfortable regarding some of their health issues. However, I find it comforting to be reminded that there’s nothing they haven’t heard of before.

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  8. This is such a helpful article! I’m encouraging my wife to go see an OB-GYN regarding her reproductive health, but she’s just too hesitant to ask questions. This article assures her that there’s no such thing as an embarrassing topic when it comes to an OB-GYN visit as they have heard it all before. Thanks for this!

  9. It was actually really helpful though because prior to reading your article, I didn’t know that I still can get pregnant while on my period. Thanks for sharing this. Actually, I’m in my second month of pregnancy, and I’m looking for an article that will help with my situation. Seeing this helped me realize that although some questions are embarrassing to ask, it’s best to know these things than be sorry later. Thank you!

  10. Tiffany, very informational blog, i never thought about sex in periods but you have clarified it very well. Keep up the great work.

  11. Dr. Richard Demir In Arizona December 21, 2017 at 1:13 am · Reply

    Exactly ! gynecologist are used to hear such kind of questions so no need to shy for asking anything, just be honest with the doctor.

About the Author

Tiffany Nguyen
Tiffany Nguyen

Tiffany Nguyen, health enews contributor, is a public affairs and marketing intern at Advocate Support Centers in Downers Grove, IL. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University with a degree in public health. She is currently pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration focusing specifically on healthcare management at Lewis University. Tiffany enjoys hanging out with her friends, exploring new restaurants, and binge watching Netflix shows.