I was recently the featured speaker at a symposium for women aimed at helping them transition through various stages of their life. Part of the discussion also involved questions that women were too embarrassed to ask their OBGYN. As women move through both the normal aging process and through stressful times in their life, they can have questions about their body that they’re afraid to ask their OBGYN. But there’s no reason to be embarrassed!
Some of the questions are things I hear all the time! Even though I talk with a lot of women from a lot of different backgrounds all over the world, many still seem to be afraid to ask the same questions!
There shouldn’t be any embarrassment – not even a hint of it.
Here are some of the most popular questions that people were embarrassed to ask – along with my answers to them.
I love this question! Yes – it’s normal. We all have discharge, yet no one talks about it. Here’s the scoop on discharge: as long as it doesn’t itch, burn, or smell bad, it’s probably fine.
You will find that the amount of discharge you have will vary in amount as well as consistency, depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle. Trust me. You’ll miss it when it’s gone.
A resounding yes! There are so many variants of normal that I’ve frankly lost count. You’d be pressed to find any woman with two breasts that match exactly.
As with breasts, the same applies here. Yes! One of the reasons it is so important to bring young girls to a meet-and-greet with their OBGYN between the ages of 13 and 15 is so that a discussion can be had about anatomy and what’s considered normal/abnormal.
Knowledge is power. Self-love and acceptance begins at a very early age. Learning early on about the magnificence and beauty of the female body would certainly help to alleviate issues with body image and self-consciousness that often affect our youth – and women in general, regardless of age.
I see so many women suffering through sex because they feel like they are supposed to as part of their “wifely” or “partner” duties. Girl, you better recognize! Recognize that sex is supposed to be fun, pleasurable, hot, and so on and so forth.
If sex is painful for you, there needs to be an investigation as to why. If you aren’t lubricating enough, ASTROGLIDE certainly has you covered in that department, with a lube for every occasion.
There’s also the possibility that something else is going on, like vaginitis. Vaginitis, whether it be yeast or bacterial vaginosis, is an infection specifically impacting the vagina that can cause painful sex. Certainly, other sorts of infections such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, etc., need to be ruled out if you are at risk.
There could also be underlying issues, such as endometriosis. Lots of folks ignore common signs of endometriosis. Painful sex is one of them. Be sure to touch base with your OBGYN to ensure that all is well.
You are probably doing it right and don’t even know it – I promise! I commonly hear, “I don’t know what I’m feeling or looking for,” or “My breasts feel lumpy all over and all the time.”
In all seriousness, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends something called Breast Awareness. What that means, is you knowing what your breasts normally look and feel like. Look at your breasts. Feel your breasts. Don’t be embarrassed. They are yours! The key is being able to notice anything that is outside of your norm.
I typically recommend feeling/touching/squeezing your breasts a week or so after you’ve had your period, that way, your breasts won’t be as tender or fibrocystic (lumpy-bumpy). Both of which are common around the time of your period.
And since we’re on the topic, you should start getting your regular mammogram when you turn 40.
There is no medical need for a baseline mammogram. The only way a mammogram is typically done earlier than forty would be if something was noted on exam; i.e., you felt a lump, or if you had a first-degree relative with a history of breast cancer. The recommendation would then be 10 years prior to the age the affected relative was diagnosed.
Mind you, vaginas are supposed to smell like vaginas, not bouquets, floral gardens, candy, etc. Having said that, if your vagina truly does smell foul, that might warrant a bit of a workup by your friendly OBGYN. Bacterial vaginosis is a common culprit and is primarily caused by a shift in your vaginal pH.
The vagina prefers to be acidic and with bacterial vaginosis, due to an overgrowth of certain bacteria in the vagina, the pH becomes basic, and causes an amine, or fish-like odor. There are other types of infections that could also cause the vagina to smell something not vagina-like. These can also be ruled out by your OBGYN.
Whether it’s related to your vagina, breasts, discharge, sex, or your health in general, if you’ve got questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your OBGYN. If you ask, they’ll definitely tell! (And if they won’t, I sure will!)
Dr. Angela Jones is a board certified OBGYN and ASTROGLIDE’s Sexual Health Advisor.