8 questions you’re too shy to ask your gynae

They’ve heard and seen it all before, so be fearless if you have issues you’d like your ob-gyn to address!

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If you get the jitters just talking about the area between your legs, we can imagine just how nerve-wracking your annual visit to the gynaecologist must be.

After all, you’ll need to delve into details of your private parts and even sexual life with a complete stranger (in many cases), and he would likely be examining you…well, where the sun doesn’t shine. Indeed, being completely honest and truthful to your gynae is crucial, as it directly impacts your health.

Says SmartParents expert and obstetrician-gynaecologist Dr Christopher Chong, “No question is silly or stupid ― it’s only silly if you don’t ask. Experienced gynaes would probably have ‘seen it all’. Gynaes are tasked with the role of building a good relationship and rapport with their patients, so that they can ask the most embarrassing and intimate questions ― because they trust us.”

To ease those jitters, we’ve picked several awkward questions you may want to pose to your gynae. You’ll probably realise that your issues aren’t that unusual, after all!

Never try to pop a pimple or burst a boil at your vaginal area as this can spread bacteria and lead to infection.

Question 1: Why does my vagina smell funny? What does a normal vagina smell like?
Everyone has their own distinct smell ― the smell varies because of factors like the food we eat, hygiene habits, and your natural body odour. What is more important, is whether there has been a change in how you smell. “A change could indicate an infection,” says Dr Chong. “For instance, if it is a fishy smell, it could be an infection of gardnerella (when harmful bacteria that usually co-exists with good bacteria like lactobacillus overgrows in the vagina).”

Question 2: I think I have a pimple down there…. How does that even happen?
This could be caused by an infection of hair follicles or some glands. It may happen if you use harsh products to wash your vaginal area, or if you are sensitive to certain contraceptives or a laundry detergent. Shaving your pubic region can infect hair follicles as well. It usually isn’t a cause for concern, but it can be very uncomfortable because your genital area is extremely sensitive. Never try to pop a pimple or burst a boil at your vaginal area as this can spread bacteria and lead to infection. Most of these can clear up on their own, or you may be given topical medication, or antihistamines. “But if it’s an infection of the Bartholin’s glands at the vulva, it can be very painful and may require surgery,” notes Dr Chong.

Question 3: Why is sex so painful?
Pain during sex can affect a couple’s relationship, cause the sex drive to drop and may even result in a loss of confidence. While it’s not uncommon, you shouldn’t dismiss it. There are several possible reasons for painful sex, and you should see a gynae to figure out what the problem is. “It could be dryness ― too little foreplay and not enough lubrication, for instance,” Dr Chong says. “It could be vaginisimus, where the vaginal muscles squeeze or spasm when something enters, or a psychological fear of sex. Other reasons include endometriosis, a retroverted uterus [tipped backwards, so that it aims towards the rectum instead of forward towards the belly] or previous vaginal surgery scarring.”

Question 4: I’ve had five kids are my vaginal walls too lax now? How can I tighten them?
This is common from the uterus being overstretched if you delivered a big baby previously or is stretched from having too many babies, explains Dr Chong. This can lead to a loss of intimacy between couples and a drop in your self-confidence. Possible solutions include laser therapy and doing Kegel (pelvic-floor) exercises. “In some cases, surgery may be needed ― it’s done vaginally with no scar and minimal pain,” Dr Chong reassures.

What’s that itch? Find out…next!