Worried about your vagina health? Dr Shree Datta, a gynaecologist, has answered all the burning questions that women may have about their intimate health
When it comes to intimate health, many women will agree that it’s not something they’re comfortable with discussing.
And no matter how much Google searches they do every evening, most questions will still not be answered.
Luckily Dr Shree Datta, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist in-house expert for a feminine intimate healthcare brand INTIMINA, is helping women now.
The expert has answered 10 of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to a vagina and sexual health.
From heavy periods to shaving your bikini line, Dr Shree explores a lot of questions that might be worrying many women.
How do I know if my vaginal discharge is normal?
Discharge is a good sign of your vaginal health and if it looks clear or milky then there’s nothing to worry about.
When a woman has discharge is means that the vagina is healthy and keeping itself clean, which is why internal douching isn’t recommended.
Also the type and amount of discharge you pass depends on where you’re at in your menstrual cycle.
But if there’s a change in colour, consistency or smell, it’s worth getting it checked out by your gynaecologist.
Why are my periods so heavy?
The frequency and duration of a period really does vary, so it’s important to monitor what’s normal for you.
Keep track of the number of sanitary products you are changing and if you’re leaking through them.
Having long heavy periods – with flooding or clots with hourly changes – might suggest it’s a good idea to get checked out.
Also medication can often alter the flow of your periods, or having an hormonal imbalance could affect it too.
Why is it painful to have sex?
When it comes to sex, it’s common to find intimacy uncomfortable at some point and there’s a lot of causes to it.
It could be as simple as having sex for the first time with a new partner, stress or trying a new position.
But it’s likely that you find it uncomfortable at certain points of your menstrual cycle or need more lubricant.
However, if sex has always been painful, it’s worth seeking help to get to the bottom of it as there could be an underlying issue.
Why do I need to pee so often?
Going to the toilet more than often could depend on how much alcohol, water or caffeine you’re taking in.
But if you’ve noticed that you need to pop to the loo more often, you could have a urine tract infection or an overactive bladder.
Certain medicines or medical conditions could affect how often you’re going to the toilet in the day.
Otherwise you might benefit from strengthen your pelvic floor muscles which support the bladder, bowel and affect sexual function.
Why do I keep bleeding in-between periods and after sex?
There are many reasons why you might bleed in-between your periods or after sex, but to help get to the bottom of the issue, make a few notes on when it happens and how long it lasts.
It’s not uncommon if you’ve changed your contraception to a new pill or coil and for some women, it’s normal to bleed slightly mid-cycle.
But some sexually transmitted infections may cause bleeding unrelated to periods, as can stress or pregnancy.
It could be that there are some cell changed to the cervix so it’s important to have an up-to-date smear test.
Why do I need to have a smear if I’ve had the HPV vaccination?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common sexually transmitted infection, with over 100 different types, which can cause warts and cervical cancer.
Infection with HPV doesn’t usually cause any symptoms, so those with HPV don’t know they have the infection and it generally takes around 18-24 months to clear.
The vaccination programme – although effective – does not protect against all of the strands of HPV which can cause cervical cancer.
As the vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV, it’s still important to go for cervical smears once you reach the age of 25.
Why haven’t I had my period for three months and my pregnancy test is negative?
There are many reasons why your period may stop, whether it’s changes in hormonal contraception or stress.
Sudden weight loss or doing too much exercise can impact your periods too, as does being significantly overweight.
Medical problems such as poorly controlled diabetes or an overactive thyroid can also influence whether you get your periods.
At this point it would be a good idea to get your hormones checked to make sure it’s not the first sign of menopause.
Why do I keep getting pains in my lower tummy worse leading up to my periods?
It’s not uncommon to get period pains, pelvic pain in the second half of your menstrual cycle and it could suggest endometriosis.
This is a medical condition where the womb lining is found elsewhere – often in your ovaries and around the womb as well as within it.
Endometriosis can cause regular pains, which get worse in the time leading up to and during your period.
However, pain can also be due to infection or IBS, so it’s important to see your doctor to make sure the correct diagnosis is made so that the right treatment is given.
I’ve got polycystic ovaries, does this mean I won’t be able to have children?
Polycystic ovary syndrome can affect periods and in some cases your fertility – but not always.
PCOS is common, affecting between 2-26 women per 100 and relates to the number of fluid-filled follicles you have in your ovaries.
You may not have symptoms even if you do have PCOS; things to watch for include irregular or no periods, acne, or an increase in facial or body hair.
Being overweight can also be associated with PCOS, but diagnosis depends on your menstrual regularity, blood tests and an ultrasound scan.
Should I shave if I’m seeing a gynaecologist?
There is no need to shave or wax your pubic hair if you’re visiting your gynaecologist.
The only time that it would be considered by your doctor is when they are performing an operation on the skin around the vagina.