7 embarrassing medical questions answered
We're often told that our doctors have seen everything, and that we shouldn’t feel awkward asking them about things we find embarrassing.
And on the other side of the spectrum, a problem might seem so insignificant that you're not sure whether it’s serious enough to warrant a trip to the doctor.
The answers to the following common questions may help.
1. Sometimes my poop is green. Why?
It’s easy to be alarmed when your stool looks unusual. It’s completely normal for the colour of your stools to be varying shades of brown – and even green at times. Green stools can occur because of the chlorophyll in green, leafy vegetables or supplements. Some colourants and dyes in food may also cause green stools.
Sometimes a yellow-green colour indicates the presence of bile. When you have an upset stomach, bile is not broken down normally and may appear in your stools.
According to our liver expert, dark green stools may also be caused by stress. If this persists, see your doctor.
2. I’m farting more than usual. Should I be worried?
Have you changed your diet recently? Are you eating more fibre or legumes? Did you perhaps overdo it on onion rings or a greasy meal? If so, this could explain your increased wind.
If your farts, however, are coupled with other unpleasant symptoms such as diarrhoea, constipation or cramps over a period of time, it might signify other digestive problems such as IBS.
3. There was a little bit of blood when I wiped. Is this an intestinal problem or could it be something else?
Seeing blood on toilet paper after a bowel movement can be scary, but is not always a reason for panic. There are a number of factors that can cause rectal bleeding, such as ulcers, haemorrhoids or polyps. The cause of bleeding may not be serious, but locating the source of bleeding is important.
The source of the bleeding is not always from the intestines, and contrary to popular belief doesn’t always signify cancer. How regularly does it happen? What is the amount of blood? If it’s a frequent occurrence, you need to see your doctor as a colonoscopy might be needed to find the cause.
4. Sometimes it's sore when I orgasm. Is there a reason?
Painful orgasms can make sex unpleasant, but research suggests that it’s more frequent than we may think. The condition is called dysorgasmia and causes cramps in the lower abdomen and pelvic region as women orgasm. This condition is more frequent in older women nearing menopause.
5. I always have ingrown, fungal toenails. They're unsightly. How can I fix them?
Ingrown toenails are already sore and prone to cause infection – add a fungal infection to the mix and it can be an unpleasant double whammy. Fungal infections in the toenails are common, but can be stubborn to treat and often reoccur. An antifungal tablet or oral antibiotic can be taken to treat of the fungal infection, while proper footcare such as trimming the nails straight across will help remedy the ingrown toenail. If the problem persists, you will need to visit a podiatrist, especially if you're a diabetic.
6. My breasts feel lumpy and sore when I menstruate. How will I know if it’s cancer?
During your period your breasts retain extra fluid, causing the natural tissue to feel a bit lumpier. This is completely normal and no treatment is needed. You can also experience a lumpy, tender feeling in your breasts when you are on birth control, due to the hormonal changes.
Learn how to self-examine your breasts to distinguish unusual, solid lumps and always consult your doctor if you are worried. Here's a guide on how to do a breast examination.
7. I keep getting yeast infections. Is it my underwear, or is there a problem with my immune system?
Vaginal yeast infections occur when the natural yeast in the vagina starts to multiply, leading to uncomfortable itching, redness and discharge. There are several factors that could aggravate a yeast infection, including wearing sweaty gym clothes and tight shapewear, especially in summer.
While it’s not specifically the clothing that causes the condition, clothing can trap bacteria and accelerate the growth of yeast, leading to an uncomfortable infection. Stick to cotton underwear, especially during the warmer months. If this doesn't get rid of your yeast infections, your doctor can help you investigate other underlying causes.
Readers, don't hesitate to ask our panel of experts if you have any embarrassing questions of your own. Or you can share with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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