Everyone goes through some health issues at one time or another, but some are a little more personal or private that we might not want anyone to know about them. Sometimes, this shame could even prevent you from seeing a doctor, but there are a number of “embarrassing” health issues you shouldn’t ignore — or they could end up becoming much worse. You may feel awkward going into a doctor’s office to fix these problems, but let’s not forget that that’s what doctors are there for, and they’ve likely seen it all.
If you feel like you’re the only one embarrassed to go to your doctor about personal health problems, you’re not alone. A study from Ovarian Cancer Action found that almost half of women aged 18-24 are scared of having intimate examinations, and two thirds of the women surveyed were even too embarrassed to even say the word “vagina.”
You may not want to discuss your every symptom with your friends or family, but it’s always important to see a doctor, not only because their job is to help you feel better, but because they can help make sure nothing worse is really going on. No matter how odd it feels to tell someone else, these are 11 embarrassing health issues you should never ignore.
Most women don’t talk about it, but 75 percent of women will experience a yeast infection at one point in their lives, according to Healthline. That itchiness and discharge might seem super embarrassing, but they can be easily treated. “Delaying treatment of a yeast infection only makes it worse and prolongs your discomfort,” says certified nurse practitioner Mimi Secor over email. Left untreated, yeast infections can cause swelling and severe discomfort.
Excessive hair growth on the face, body, and other extremities can be a sign of hormonal imbalances associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), according to Jane L. Frederick, MD, FACOG. This hair growth is also coupled with male-pattern hair loss, something that can feel embarrassing for women. Getting diagnosed with PCOS can help you keep the right treatment that’s needed.
If you have little-to-no interest in sex long-term and it’s causing you distress, you might have hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), according to Healthline. Women with HSDD often have partners they love and enjoy, but they often report feeling “nothing” or “numb.” Treatment for HSDD can vary, since it could arise from a number of factors, including psychological, physical, and hormonal.
Sometimes too much stress can get the best of us, and it’s not always easy to come forward with issues regarding our mental health. However, chronic stress can put you at risk for anxiety and depression, digestive problems, headaches, sleep problems, and more, according to Mayo Clinic, so it’s best to see a professional to help you figure out the best ways to manage your stress.
Occasional spotting between periods can be harmless, but if you find that you’re bleeding often, you’ll definitely want to go get checked out. Spotting can occur for a number of reasons, including STIs, pregnancy, ovarian cancer, PCOS, and more, according to Everyday Health.
“Abnormally excessive generalized sweating, known as hyperhidrosis, should not be ignored,” says Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, M.D., M.S. over email. “Certain underlying medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism and even certain lymphomas may potentially lead to this problem. You should seek medical attention if you experience such problems with abnormal sweating to make sure it is not occurring due to a serious medical problem.”
Painful bowel movements are not a glamorous topic of conversation, but it should get checked out. Pain while going to the bathroom could occur as a result of anal fissures, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and more, according to New Health Advisor, and getting treatment for these issues can help make going to the bathroom much less miserable.
Noticing your nipple has become inverted or is leaking might seem weird and embarrassing, but you’ll want to see a doctor ASAP. Inverted nipples, nipple discharge, and nipple rashes can all be a sign of breast cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.
It’s super embarrassing to smell funky down there, but that doesn’t mean you’re not clean or unhygienic. Instead, you likely have bacterial vaginosis, a mild infection of the vagina caused by an imbalance in the “good” and “bad bacteria,” according to webmd.com. It is more common in women who are sexually active, but it can also occur with women who are not sexually active as well. Left untreated, BV can increase the risk of miscarriage in pregnant women, increase your risk of a pelvic infection in certain circumstances, and increase your risk of getting an STI.
It’s an awkward conversation to have, but you shouldn’t be embarrassed: Many more women experience urinary incontinence than men, and lack of control over your bladder isn’t something you’re stuck with, according to webmd.com. Your doctor can help include behavior modification or even give you medicine to help deal with a leaky bladder.
“Anal itching is a very embarrassing yet sometimes common health symptom,” says Okeke-Igbokwe. “This problem could arise due to various conditions such as yeast infections, hemorrhoids, and intestinal parasites like pinworms. If you experience ongoing severe symptoms of anal itching, then it is important to be evaluated by a medical professional to identify the cause of itching.”
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