Gynaecologists are doctors who specialise in women’s reproductive and sexual health – your GP may have referred you to one. That’s if you weren’t too embarrassed to talk to your GP. Because apparently, girls are really, really shy about asking certain questions. The gynae docs have been spilling the beans on the questions their patients have most trouble asking. So let’s see what they are and how you can go about raising them.
1. Why does sneezing, coughing or sex make me lose urine?
This may not be as embarrassing as it used to be, as TV advertisers have now invented the term “sensitive bladder”. Although the ads are mostly aimed at older women, don’t imagine you’re unusual having the problem at a younger age. Actually, this type of urine leak is so common that it affects one in three women over the age of 18. And “sensitive bladder” is a useful term to use in order to get started talking to your doctor. It’s very likely that you’ll be prescribed simple pelvic floor exercises which can fix the problem.
2. Am I normal “down there”?
Girls worry that their labia (the lips surrounding the vagina) are too long, or misshapen, or the wrong colour, or that their vagina is the wrong shape. And needless to say, the US is leading the way in surgery for women who feel self-conscious about the shape of their genital area. It’s completely unnecessary, but where there’s a female lacking in confidence, there’s generally a surgeon more than happy to sharpen a scalpel and accept their money.
Cosmopolitan has a great article on the different types and shapes of labia, with drawings, so take a look – you’re normal – https://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/body/health/g11658368/is-my-vagina-normal-shape-size-vulva-labia/.
3. Can I get screened for an STI?
You don’t always have to ask because there are now use-at-home tests, for example, Chlamydia testing kits in London https://www.bexleysexualhealth.org/chlamydia_screening/. So at the doctor, ask if they have one for a particular STI.
4. Do I smell or taste bad?
Unlikely. More likely, you may feel somewhat ashamed of your vaginal area, and have been taught that it is “dirty”. All secretions, such as sweat and vaginal mucus, can carry food flavours – garlic for example. If you’re feeling self-conscious, avoid strongly flavoured food and drink plenty of cranberry juice.
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