LOOKING FOR ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR?
While guys embrace their bodily functions – the good, the bad, and the totally foul—women tend to be squeamish about theirs. Which is why it’s hard to work up the courage to ask your doctor awkward health questions, especially if you’re wearing a tissue-thin gown (Note to self: Do not wear a thong next time!) To make matters worse, you can’t always count on a physician to broach sensitive subjects first – they aren’t immune to blushing. Here, we compiled a list of commonly, gross biological functions or funky medical mysteries.
For girls and women in their reproductive years, vaginal discharge is better than normal – it’s terrific! The vagina should be thought as a self-cleaning oven. Discharge helps clear out dead cells, keeps the vaginal walls lubricated, and even fights infection. Take a look at what’s on the toilet paper – the color should be clear, white, or slightly yellow, and it may have a faint musty smell. (Vaginal odor serves as a major attraction factor for your partner, so think of it as your own personal brand of perfume). While the amount of discharge can increase during ovulation (and obviously during sexual stimulation), if you notice any unusual or sudden changes in color (green is not good), texture, or odor, something fishy is probably going on, in more ways than one.
Here’s a little factoid that will stroke your boyfriend’s ego: Compared with the penis sizes of other species, most human males are pretty well-endowed. For procreation purposes, a man’s penis needs to be only about 3 inches long, yet the average length is more than 5 inches. But the vagina can handle a range of penis sizes, so unless you are with a very well-hung mate, chances are, your pain isn’t the result of his girth.
With their love of bathroom humor, most guys are pretty comfortable talking about poop, but this is definitely the Numero-Uno most embarrassing subject for women to discuss. Uncontrollable bowel movements affect 5.5 million Americans and are more common in women than in men. One reason is childbirth, which can damage the muscles or nerves needed for bowel control. Another surprising cause in a deficiency in serotonin. 95%of your body’s supply of this “feel-good” hormone is in your gut, and women seem to have greater fluctuations in their serotonin levels than men do. If you experience a strong and pressing need to go to the bathroom, notice stool spotting on your underwear, or have diarrhea for longer than a few days, see your doctor. It could be that you’re not digesting food properly (can you say “lactose intolerant”?) or you’re under a lot of stress. Certain medications can cause problems too. In the most serious cases, it could be the result of nerve damage around the rectum, which can signal a problem such as diabetes.
You probably associate incontinence with the senior citizens in those Depend ads, but it’s actually much more closely linked to giving birth. Pushing out a baby stretches your pelvic floor, and that changes the angle between the urethra and the bladder. It’s not uncommon to find that a few drips of urine is suddenly a side effect of laughing, jogging, having sex, or even squatting down to pick something up. (Two other possible culprits: playing high-impact sports and being overweight). The best way to stop this from happening is to strengthen those pelvic-floor muscles to hold in your urine. Kegel exercises are the gold standard, but one in five women do them incorrectly! Ask your doc or gynecologist for advice, or try this approach:
Despite what some guys want to believe, women do fart. In fact, we all pass gas a dozen or more times a day. The nonsmelly kind comes from air that’s swallowed when you eat or drink (especially when you consume food too quickly, chew gum, or sip through a straw), but the more noxious types of fumes are created during the digestion process by bacteria in the colon. If you’re passing gas a lot more than 12 times a day, you may simply be eating too much fiber (which promotes gas formation in the digestive tract) or drinking too many carbonated sodas. It could also be the result of food intolerance (such as lactose or gluten intolerance) or the side effects of a medication like an antibiotic or laxative.
Some girls are so focused on hair removal that they’re shocked when confronted by the reality that – yes—our bodies do sprout hair, even in places you may not like. However, while a few sparse hairs are perfectly normal and certainly no cause for alarm, if you’re growing a Groucho Marx-esque patch on your upper lip or chin, between your breasts, or on your abdomen or inner thighs, it could be a sign of a hormonal imbalance called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
If you brush, floss, and swish, and your friends still hint that you need a mint, you may suffer from halitosis. Most of the time, it isn’t the result of poor dental hygiene. Instead, stinky breath can come from other surprising sources:
Soaking through a t-shirt when you’re burning up the treadmill is one thing. But if you’re saturating your clothes just sitting in an air-conditioned office, you may have hyperhidrosis (actually, about 3% of Americans or 8 million people suffer from excessive sweating). Think of your sweat glands as tiny turkey basters: The muscles inside squeezes the bulb and pushes out the sweat. But if the nerves that control those muscles become hyperstimulated, they’ll start to spasm, releasing sweat even when your body doesn’t need to be cooled down.