Everything You’ve Always Been Too Afraid to Ask the Gynecologist

By Sandra Fu

A visit to the gynecologist -- what could be more embarrassing? You’re asked to strip naked, sit down on what constitutes a piece of tissue paper, stick your feet in stirrups with your legs spread open and your genitals exposed, while someone prods your breasts for lumps, sticks a finger inside you to press your ovaries before following that with a cold, slimy speculum, kindly asking if you’d like to see your cervix.

Who could blame you for stuttering a barely audible, “Nuh-nu-no,” before clamming up for the rest of the exam. On top of it, once you get your clothes back on, you can’t quite get over the fact that you’re looking into a pair of eyes that were so recently fixated on your crotch. So you decline to ask the list of questions you had ready before the humiliation began.

So we’ve taken the asking out of the equation.

Here are some that may have come to mind. They may not include every one you wanted to ask, but at least you didn’t have to sit through the answers.

Q: I’ve been having painful intercourse. What could be the reason?

A: There could be several reasons. First, some of the more obvious reasons should be considered. "If a woman is in a new sexual relationship and having frequent sex -- or if her new partner has a large penis -- either of those could be the problem," says gynecologist Dr. Sheryl Ross, co-author of Expecting Fitness and Two At a Time: Having Twins.

“Probably one of the most common reasons is that the woman isn’t well lubricated,” she adds. Ross also suggests that there may not be enough foreplay or that the woman may want to evaluate whether the relationship is a good one, adding that emotional issues in a relationship can make themselves evident in this way.

“Painful intercourse can also be a sign of endometriosis, an infection,” she advises. The question is a broad one, so a woman should always see her gynecologist to pinpoint the reason.

Q: I’m noticing that I sometimes have discharge. Does this mean I have an STD?

A: “You can have mid-cycle discharge that’s different from the rest of your cycle,” says Ross, “and that can mean you’re ovulating. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have an infection.”

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