10 Vaginal Problems You Should Tell Your Gyno About
It could be nothing, but abdominal pain could also be a sign of ovarian cysts (fluid-filled sacs that develop on or in an ovary), uterine fibroids (typically benign growths that develop within the uterus), endometriosis (when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows in other parts of the body), or an ectopic pregnancy (when a fertilized egg attaches to and grows outside of the main portion of the uterus)—“all things that need medical attention,” Dr. Wider says.And don’t wait to call: While you may think it makes sense to wait to see how your pain progresses throughout the day, calling your ob-gyn’s office at 5 p.m. when you’re in severe pain pretty much guarantees you’ll be told to go to the E.R. “But if you call in the morning, we can do an ultrasound,” says Dr. Streicher.3. A less-than-pleasant vaginal odorIf you notice a funky smell down south that doesn’t go away or get better, call your gynecologist. Sherry Ross, M.D., ob-gyn and women’s health expert at California’s Providence Saint John’s Health Center, tells SELF that a forgotten tampon is the most common cause of this—and that can increase your risk of infection or the extremely rare toxic shock syndrome, a life-threatening complication of certain bacterial infections. A strong vaginal odor can also be a sign of a vaginal infection, such as bacterial vaginosis (or BV, which is often the culprit behind a fishy smell). Basically, you’ll want to get that checked out ASAP to be on the safe side.4. Discharge that looks kind of weirdIf you just notice your discharge is a little different for one or two days, it’s likely nothing to worry about—it’s common for your discharge to change throughout your menstrual cycle due to hormonal fluctuations that happen during ovulation. Everyone has their own version of “normal” when it comes to discharge, but in general, it’s usually clear to white in color, can range from thin to thick consistency, and can have a slight smell but be pretty much odorless most of the time, per the ACOG.In addition to odor, if your discharge suddenly changes color or consistency, you should see your ob-gyn. It should not be a striking shade of green or look oddly clumpy. This, again, could be the result of a forgotten tampon, but it could also be a sign of infection, such as BV, a yeast infection, or an STD, per the Cleveland Clinic. It might also be a sign that something just isn’t agreeing with your vaginal area and causing irritation or an allergic reaction.5. Repeat pain during sexSex shouldn’t be painful, but sometimes the occasional lack of lube can make it a little uncomfortable, whether you physically didn’t apply any or you didn’t spend enough time on foreplay. However, if you regularly feel pain during sex or you have a sore vagina after sex, it could be a sign of an infection, hormonal issues, uterine fibroids, or vaginal dryness, among other issues, all of which your doctor can help you address, Dr. Wider says.6. Painful periodsWhile you may have the occasional achiness and cramps during that time of the month, your period shouldn’t be unbearably painful. Meaning, if you need to call out of work or bow out of plans because you’re feeling that much discomfort during your period, you need to tell your gynecologist about it. Painful periods that impact your quality of life can be a symptom of endometriosis, scarring from infections, or uterine fibroids, among other issues, Dr. Minkin says, so it’s crucial to get to the bottom of it. Once your doctor figures out what’s going on, they can help identify a treatment that may help reduce your pain—because you shouldn’t have to just put up with it.7. New vaginal bumps“There are so many different causes for vaginal bumps,” Dr. Greves says. That includes infected hair follicles, harmless cysts, and sexually transmitted infections. It’s also entirely possible to have a pimple or skin tag down there, so don’t automatically panic if you happen to spot or feel a bump near your vagina. But don’t write it off if it sticks around or causes discomfort, either, especially if you have a swollen vulva. “We need to look at it to see what it could be,” Dr. Greves says. Once your doctor identifies what it is, they can help you figure out the best way to get rid of it, if needed.8. Low libidoThere’s no set threshold for what clinically defines a “low libido,” but you’ll definitely be able to tell if your sex drive has plummeted recently. Dr. Minkin says this can be linked to so many factors, from dealing with relationship issues to hormonal fluctuations to side effects from certain medications, including antidepressants and birth control pills.