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5 Embarrassing sexual health issues

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

You aren't alone

You aren't the only one who has experienced embarrassing sexual health issues. Vaginal discharge, pain during sex, urinary incontinence and other problems are more common than you'd imagine. We consulted doctors around the country to find out what you should do about these embarrassing yet common conditions.

Embarassed woman

1Vaginal discharge

It's sometimes sticky. It's often gooey. And certainly, it can be downright nasty. What's that discharge coming out of your vagina?

Dr. Rachel Bregman, who is on the clinical faculty at New York Presbyterian Hospital, says:

"A clear and relatively odorless vaginal discharge is normal. When the discharge looks like tiny white specks and the vulva is irritated, these may well be signs of a yeast infection, which can be treated with over-the-counter products. When the discharge has a powerful odor, that can be a symptom of a trichinosis infection or an STD, and you should consult with your doctor. Any ongoing thick or irritating discharge, or discharge that isn't relatively clear in color might be the symptom of a chronic or more serious infection that requires medical treatment."

Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz, a board-certified OB/GYN who practices in Beverly Hills, California, agrees:

"Most vaginal discharge is normal. Discharge changes throughout the menstrual cycle and over the span of a woman's lifetime. However, discharge that itches, burns or smells unpleasant should get your attention. This may not be normal. You might have a yeast infection."

And contrary to what you may think, cleansing the vagina may do more harm than good. "Please don't go crazy with personal hygiene," says Gilberg-Lenz. "Wipes, douches and over cleansing may actually make the problem worse, not better, by causing or promoting an imbalance in the vaginal pH."

Yeast infections: Causes and treatments >>

2Bleeding between periods

Isn't bleeding five days a month enough? What should you do when you see blood between periods? We asked the question and got the answers.

Dr. Adeeti Gupta, who practices obstetrics and gynecology in Flushing, New York, says:

"At times, spotting between periods is normal. Some women may have slight spotting associated with mild pain in the abdomen during ovulation. However, if the spotting continues for more than two or three days, you need to be evaluated.

"The various causes could be infections of the vagina or the cervix, cervical polyps, fibroids in the uterus, medical problems like thyroid problems, or if you are on any blood thinners. You should call the doctor if the bleeding is persistent, heavy or associated with pain."

Dr. Brad Douglas, OB/GYN and women's health expert on JustAnswer.com, says it could be the pill that's causing your bleeding.

"This could be due to the type of birth control. Many triphasic birth control pills cause this; these pills have the words TRI or 7/7/7 in the name. However, this could also be due to cervical dysplasia, cancer of the cervix, an infection, a thyroid condition such as hypothyroidism, or a polyp."

Things that can affect your period flow >>

Up next: More embarrassing sexual health issues >>

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