Embarrassing Questions You’re Too Afraid To Ask Your OB/GYN

Seeing your OB/GYN can be an awkward, somewhat nerve-wracking experience. The last thing you want to do is make the visit any more agonizing. And while, you may be overwhelmed with burning questions about your lady parts, most of us would rather grin and bear it, to make the process as seamless as possible.

With the help of board-certified OB/GYNs Dr. Jamil Abdur-Rahman and Dr. Idries Abdur-Rahman, here are answers to three embarrassing questions you’re too afraid to ask your gynecologist – because awkwardness is no excuse to stay in the dark about common womanly concerns.

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Q: I smell “funny” down there. Should I be worried?

Dr. Idries: Worried may be a strong term but a funny odor is something that should be investigated. Let’s start by establishing the fact that all vaginas make discharge. Vaginal discharge is not only normal but it is actually healthy. Vaginal discharge is indicative of normal vaginal flora (the bacteria and organisms that should live in the vagina) and vaginal discharge functions to clean unhealthy organisms from the vagina. Most vaginal discharge will have a mild odor, again this is normal. The key is getting to know your body and your norm.

“The issue is when the vaginal discharge has a strong or abnormal odor or if it smells differently than normal. If the odor is fishy, that usually indicates bacterial vaginosis, an infection and imbalance amongst the normal vaginal flora. Malodorous vaginal discharge can also be indicative of an STI (sexually transmitted infection) like gonorrhea, chlamydia or trichomoniasis. Strong vaginal discharge can also be indicative of rarer things including foreign bodies (retained tampon or condom) and even more rarely malignancies like cervical, uterine or vaginal cancer.

So again, worried is a strong term but if malodorous discharge is present, especially if it is new, it should definitely be investigated by a medical professional.”

Dr. Jamil: Less concerning causes of abnormal odor can include vaginitis. This is typically a non-STD infection like candidiasis (i.e., a yeast infection) or bacterial vaginosis. Additionally, consumption of large amounts of dairy, alcohol, etc. can affect the vaginal pH and result in an odd odor.