Let’s be honest. Going to the gynecologist can be such an awkward experience. You get the most sensitive and private part of your body examined by a virtual stranger – with an assistant as an audience. You’re answering questions about your sex life, vaginal discharge, and anything unusual that may be going on with your reproductive health. You get a cold instrument inserted into your vaginal canal while you have small talk about the weather with your doctor. It’s no wonder so many women feel like they want to get the experience done and over with as soon as possible.
That said, regardless of how uncomfortable it may be, it’s necessary to get answers to all your questions regarding the health of your reproductive system. This applies whether or not you’re planning on having children.
10 Questions You’re Too Embarrassed to Ask Your OB-GYN
No matter how cringe-worthy you may think your question may be, your OB-GYN has already heard it — multiple times.
1. Does my vagina look normal?
Vaginas can look a wide array of ways. Some women have longer labia majora than others. Some women’s clitoris is more prominent. Color is also another variable. Anywhere from pink to dark brown is part of the spectrum.
2. Does my vagina smell?
Yes, it does smell. A healthy vagina has a pH balance of 4.5. When healthy, it’s supposed to have a slightly sour odor. The smell is going to be heightened if you’re on your period or after working out. This is no reason for concern. If the odor becomes foul or is accompanied by unusual discharge, it could be a sign of an infection.
3. How much discharge is normal?
Just as with the look of a vulva, vaginal discharge varies from one person to the next. It also changes throughout your menstrual cycle or life stage — you’ll have more discharge when you’re ovulating, sexually aroused, pregnant, or breastfeeding. The consistency also changes throughout your cycle — the thicker it is, the peaker your fertility. The only times you should be concerned is if it looks yellow, greenish, or gray, it looks like cottage cheese, comes with itchiness, smells like fish, or has blood in it.
4. What’s that weird bump?
Bumps could be an indication of a sexually transmitted disease (STD). However, they could also be ingrown hairs, vaginal cysts, skin tags, vulvar varicosities, lichen sclerosus, or maybe even cancer. Therefore, it could be something completely harmless to life-threatening. The only way to find out — and get the treatment you need — is to ask your doctor about it.
5. Why do I feel pain when having sex?
Sex shouldn’t be painful, so if you’re experiencing discomfort, bring it up with your doctor. It could be one of many reasons — inadequate lubrication, a retroverted uterus, pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection, vaginismus, or psychological factors. Regardless of the reason, the only way to solve it is to talk with your OB-GYN about it so that you can obtain adequate treatment.
6. Why is it so difficult for me to have an orgasm?
This could be due to stress, orgasmic dysfunction, a history of sexual abuse, medications you’re taking, fundamentalist religious beliefs, not enough clitoral stimulation, being mentally checked out, or anorgasmia, among others. In addition to helping you feel happier about your sexual experiences, talking to your OB-GYN about difficulties reaching orgasm could also help rule out or diagnose an underlying health condition.
7. Do I have an STD?
Don’t go in assuming that if you have a sexually transmitted disease, your doctor will tell you. Sometimes, the answer can be obvious — such as if you’re having a herpes outbreak or have genital warts. However, there are plenty of STDs that do not have apparent signs — such as HIV, Hepatitis B, gonorrhea, chlamydia, or latent stage syphilis. During a routine annual exam, your OB-GYN collects sample cells for cervical cancer screenings. If you have a specific concern about a sexually transmitted disease, talk to your doctor. Whether it’s because of unprotected sex or you’ve been a victim of sexual assault, your OB-GYN will have the resources to help you.
8. Can I have sex during my period?
Yes, you can. It will be messier, so place several towels underneath you to keep the sheets from staining, or get creative in the shower. That said, be aware that you could still get pregnant during your period, and you still need to practice safe sex to protect yourself from STDs.
9. Should I worry about itching?
There are several reasons you may have an itchy vagina. These include a urinary tract infection, a sexually transmitted disease, wearing damp gym clothes for too long, wearing pants that are too tight, menopause, the soap or detergent you may be using, genital psoriasis, vulvar dermatitis, or a yeast infection, to name a few.
10. What if I’m gender non-conforming?
Transgender men who have a cervix still need to get their annual screenings to ensure the health of their reproductive organs. However, trans men often experience gender dysphoria during visits to their gynecologist. To make the appointments more comfortable, call ahead to ask about whether the clinic has an inclusive policy — whether they use the correct pronouns and identifiers on patients’ medical files, they have experience with hormone therapy and management, and the availability of resources for patients who are experiencing depression or anxiety.
Contact us at OB-GYN Women’s Center
At OB-GYN, we aim to establish trusting relationships with our patients. If you have any nagging questions about your reproductive health, don’t be afraid to ask. We are here to help you.
Contact us to schedule an appointment. We’ll answer all of your questions and strive to procure the best treatment for your sexual health.