8 Sexual Health Symptoms Women Shouldn’t Ignore

Eileen Bailey | March 18, 2013

Reviewed by Peter J. Chen, MD, FACOG

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As mothers, wives, employees, caregivers, and friends, women lead busy lives. Unfortunately, with all this running around, we sometimes ignore medical symptoms with the excuse that we just don’t have the time to get to the doctor. But here are eight symptoms women can’t afford to ignore.

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A lump or changes in your breasts

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The best chance to beat any cancer is early detection and treatment. That means you should contact your doctor and make an appointment as soon as you notice changes, such as a lump, unevenness, scaliness or flaking on your nipple, discharge from your nipple or dimpling of the skin. While no one wants a diagnosis of cancer, early detection is important.

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We all occasionally feel bloated, but if this occurs daily and continues for one to two weeks, it is time to see your doctor.

Ovarian cancer doesn’t have any symptoms in its early stages, so if you notice constant bloating, feel full after eating only a little food, or experience frequent urination, a change in bowel habits, sudden and unexplained weight loss, or gain or low back or pelvic pain, it could be an indicator of a much more serious problem.

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Irregular bleeding

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Menstrual cycles don’t always follow the “normal” 28-day cycle, and the amount of bleeding may vary from month to month. But you probably know your cycle pretty well and can tell when something is different from what is normal for you. If you have changes to your cycle, you are spotting in between periods, or you are bleeding after menopause, talk with your doctor.

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Foul-smelling discharge from your vagina may signify an infection that needs to be treated or can be a warning sign of something more serious. While some discharge is considered normal, if you notice changes, it is time to make an appointment with your doctor.

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Pain during sex

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It is not normal to experience pain during sex. If you are, check with your doctor to find out why. It could be an infection, a hormone imbalance, pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, or an ovarian cyst, among other possibilities. Whatever it is, it is best to get checked out so you can enjoy the intimacy of sex with your partner.

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Fatigue is more than just being tired; it is a chronic feeling of being worn down. Getting a good night’s sleep should be enough to make you feel better, but if it doesn’t, and the feeling continues or begins to interfere with your activities, it is time to see a doctor.

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Itchy rash

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Red, inflamed, or itchy rashes often indicate that you have come in contact with something that caused an allergic reaction. It could be a new soap or your underwear, or, if it occurred after sex, you could be allergic to latex condoms, a lubricant, or a spermicide you used. But rashes can also indicate STDs, so it is best to get it checked out.

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Burning or frequent urination

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Burning or frequent urination usually indicates a urinary tract infection (UTI). If not treated, UTIs could lead to more serious conditions, such as cystitis. UTIs are usually treated with antibiotics.