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 cringe-worthy questions are actually totally appropriate.

Dr. Dipti Patel, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Dreyer Medical Clinic – St Charles 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 varies 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 am 65 and haven’t had intercourse for approximately 5 years. It is very difficult to have intercourse which hurts. Other then a vaginal lubricant is there anything you suggest?

  2. Why does sex hurt &!what can be used besides lubricants. My age is 68 yrs old.

  3. As women age, go through Menopause, and have hormonal fluctuations, it’s common to lose natural lubrication, and many women deal with vaginal atrophy too. First and foremost, talk with your doctors! They’re your best option! Secondly, the use-it-or-lose it rule applies to the vulva– the more we use it, the more lubrication it creates for itself! And lubrication is ALWAYS your best friend! Try out brands and formulations to see what works best for YOUR body! Uber lube, Astroglide, and even coconut oil are awesome options! And when you can, take your time getting in the mood! So much of a woman’s arousal is mental, emotional, and takes time to warm up! Take time during foreplay, and have fun! Ultimately, if you’re still feeling pain or discomfort and haven’t spoken candidly with your provider(s), discuss options like Mona Lisa Touch (sadly, this is considered elective, and is often an out-of-pocket expense).

  4. I went to see a nurse practitioner about a musty smell at age 64. No sexual activity in maybe 6 years. I don’t have any vaginal infections. Since I’m over weight around 25lbs. and still squeezing into a size 12 , may have something to do with it.I was told to let it air out. No undies at night. Also wear loose fitting pants. I never knew about this type of stuff. Sure we talk about menopause but not this!!! I think I’ll try coconut oil and panty shields and see if it will combat the dryness (not everyday). I know if you don’t use it you lose it ( that’s what happened ?). When will the musty smell go away or how can I get rid if it? This totally sucks (especially when you’re thinking about having a relationship) . My BFF told me about airing it out before I went to nurse practitioner. So could we please get some real clarity on this? Thank you so much if it happens!!

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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.