9 Crazy Questions People Ask Gynecologists
Can your doctor tell when you last had sex?
She might be able to if it was the last thing you did before leaving home, says Lauren Streicher, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. The evidence may remain inside you for 12 hours. This presents a bit of a challenge, says Streicher, because ejaculatory fluid—as well as spermicide, lubricants and creams—alter the vaginal flora (we love that phrase) in ways that can make it difficult for your doctor to accurately read your test results. If you're getting a Pap smear, give your doctor a heads-up about your very recent tryst so that she knows what she's dealing with. If the reason for your visit has to do with abnormal discharge or odor, abstain from sex for about 12 hours, or consider rescheduling. But good news if you're feeling self-conscious about a monthslong dry spell: Your doctor won't be able to tell unless you decide to tell her, says Streicher.
Can you be too clean before a Pap smear or exam?
As a matter of fact, you can. Soaping or scrubbing inside your vagina or even wiping too enthusiastically can remove or obscure the cervical cells that your doc needs to screen, says Streicher (so does douching, but surely you guessed that). And if you're hoping to talk to your doctor about discharge or odor, then Streicher says covering up your symptoms makes it harder for her to treat you. It can even make the problem worse, as in the case of one of Streicher's patients who used a towelette she found in the exam room for a last-minute cleanup, and then suffered burning pain caused by the high alcohol content. Streicher swears that no ob-gyn worth her speculum would judge her patients based on their condition or make them feel bad for it—and besides, they've probably seen your issue (and worse) before.
Can a woman be allergic to sex?
Vaginal itching or swelling (or wheezing or hives) after sex is commonly due to a reaction to latex (in condoms), lubricants or spermicides. However, a small number of women develop an allergy to the proteins in semen, says Lissa Rankin, MD, author of What's Up Down There?: Questions You'd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend. Before you give up on condoms or on sex in general, make a date with an allergist to discover what's causing your symptoms.
Next: Does your cup size increase your chances of breast cancer?
Are larger-breasted women more likely to get cancer?
Not at all, says Streicher, but they are more likely to miss a lump that could serve as an early warning sign. While breast size has no effect on your cancer risk, a woman with a EEE bra size will have a harder time than an A-cup detecting a 1cm mass. Streicher advises women of all shapes and sizes to the follow screening guidelines for their age and family history.
Does eating yogurt cure yeast infections?
Nope, says Rankin. It doesn't contain enough lactobacillus to make much of a difference. And because flavored yogurt is high in sugar, it can make your infection harder to get rid of. Instead of increasing your dosage of Fage, Rankin says you'd be better off taking daily probiotic supplements. However, the most reliable yeast infection cure usually comes in the form of an antifungal suppository (OTC or prescription).
Is it safe to use two tampons at once?
It's fine, says Streicher, as long as you make sure they're inserted side-by-side. If you put them in one after the other, you might push the first tampon in so high that it will be difficult to remove.
Can you lose an object in your vagina?
Both doctors told us that they commonly see patients freaking out about a "misplaced" object that went into their vagina and never came back out. The good news is that the vagina is a closed pouch, so if a condom, tampon, NuvaRing, diaphragm or Monistat applicator went up there, there's no way for it to migrate into another part of the body, or to disappear into the vaginal wall. If you can't feel it, it could be possibly lodged in the crevices on either side of the cervix, says Rankin, and your doctor will be happy to remove it. Often, the reason the patient can't find this missing object (and can't feel it) is because it already slipped out. When in doubt, call your doc.
Is there a test that can tell how fertile you are?
Unfortunately, no—although researchers are working on it. You may have heard of the FSH test that measures your follicle-stimulating hormone (this is what the First Response drugstore test does, but an in-office test is more accurate). Rankin says that a high FSH can suggest you're less than fertile, but a low one doesn't mean you'll be able to conceive when you want to. There is another test that measures a hormonal marker called the anti-mullerian hormone and may show that you're heading towards menopause, but it hasn't been standardized, which means that different doctors interpret it differently. Bottom line: Most ob-gyns will tell you that you don't know for sure if you can get pregnant until you try.
What's the average size of a woman's labia?
Gynecologists really hate this popular question—vaginas are like snowflakes, didn't you know?—and they're constantly reassuring patients that the size of the labia minora doesn't matter, unless it's long enough to cause physical discomfort during sex, sports or other daily activities. But Streicher and Rankin begrudgingly admitted to us that researchers have actually bothered to pull together stats on this, and one study from 1902 shows that the labia minora typically ranges from 3/4 inch to 2 1/3, with over 87% of them measuring around 3/4 of an inch. Happy now?
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