Body News, Health & Fitness

Embarrassing Women’s Health Questions, Answered – Tan Lili

When it comes to our private area, it can be embarrassing bringing up our concerns to a doctor. Lili takes one for the team, and grills a gynaecologist on the burning questions all of us have (but don’t dare to ask). 

There are many health concerns that we’d have no qualms bringing up to a doctor. And then there are those that are so mortifying, we’d rather stay clueless and even suffer in silence, resigning ourselves to the possibility that we would have to live with this condition forever.

The good news is, most of the embarrassing troubles down below are very common and can be treated or prevented. Dr Tony Tan, Specialist in Gynaecology & Obstetrics and Consultant, Raffles Women’s Centre, answers some of them.

health problems

Q: I have recurring yeast infection. Is there a way to treat it once and for all?

A: Unfortunately, it’s not possible. It is however possible to identify factors that may predispose one to getting recurring vaginal yeast infections. These may include stress, use of oral contraceptive pills, use of antibiotics, and wearing nylon underwear or tight-fitting jeans. Once these predisposing factors are identified, avoiding these factors may reduce the recurrence of vaginal yeast infections. Using a maintenance treatment with anti-fungal treatments for six months may prevent the infections as well. However, it may recur again after stopping the treatments. Some patients have found some relief with lactobacilli treatment, and the preventive use of the feminine vaginal douches when not having the infection.

Q: I love my boyfriend but I’m not particularly thrilled about sex. Is there something wrong with me?

A: Loss of libido is a common problem that affects many women at some point in their life. This is often due to stress in relationships or work, anxiety, exhaustion, depression, or important life-changing events such as pregnancy, giving birth or breastfeeding. Relationship problems are the most common causes of loss of libido – and vice versa. Loss of libido may be a problem when it is persistent over months. It may be due to long-term medical problems such as heart diseases, diabetes, obesity, or certain medications including some antihypertensives, antidepressants, anti-epileptics, etc.

Q: I’m always initiating sex with my boyfriend. Is there something wrong with me?

A: There is nothing wrong with you. As long as both of you feel fulfilled with your sex life, there is nothing wrong with who initiates sex. If you are bothered that you are always the one doing so, discuss this honestly with your partner and find out if there are reasons for this.

Q: How much daily discharge is normal? Should I be worried if I have to wear a panty-liner every day?

A: Most vaginal discharge is physiological. The amount is variable. After deliveries, many women do complain of increased vaginal discharge and may have to wear a panty-liner every day. It is unusual if the vaginal discharge smells or causes itch. And if it occurs after unprotected sexual intercourse with multiple partners or with a partner with multiple sexual partners, it’s best to immediately see a gynaecologist.

Q: I have a painful bump (feels like a pimple) in my vaginal area. What’s causing it?

A: It could really be a pimple. Sometimes it is a cyst, such as Bartholin’s cyst, which occurs like a retention cyst in the vulvar area.

Q: Is it true that if I’ve had a miscarriage, it will be harder for me to conceive in future?

A: In general, no – unless there were complications after the miscarriage that may cause adhesions within the uterine cavity or the tubes.

Q: Can my doctor tell if I’ve had an abortion, miscarriage or STD before?

A: Pregnancies do sometimes leave traces in women’s bodies, including changes to the areola of the nipples, pigmentation over the midline of the abdominal wall, stretch marks, etc. The cervical opening may appear pinpoint if there have not been any pregnancies before, while it may appear flattened if there had been an abortion or miscarriage. Some STDs will show up on blood tests (e.g. syphilis, HIV, herpes) even if they have already been treated.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

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