Dr. Pari was featured as a guest contributor in the article below, originally posted for Glamour Health by Korin Miller.
It happens to everyone: You go to the gyno with a question you really want to have answered, but are stressed that she’ll think you’re weird if you actually ask it. So…you chicken out.
But doctors say that’s a big mistake. “If you think it is important, so do we,” says board-certified ob-gyn Pari Ghodsi, M.D. “Besides piece of mind, you don’t want to leave something unaddressed that could lead to further problems down the road.”
Jason James, M.D., medical director at Miami’s FemCare Ob-Gyn, agrees. “If there is something concerning you, there is no harm in bringing it up to your doctor to make sure it is nothing worrisome,” he says. “Chances are, we have heard it before.” Plus, James points out that the whole doctor-patient confidentiality thing means they can’t talk about your questions or issues without your permission, making your gyno’s office a pretty safe space where you can open up.
With that in mind, we got ob-gyns to spill on the top “weird” questions they actually hear a lot (seriously—it’s not just you):
“Do I smell funny?”
While Lauren Streicher, M.D., an associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, says this could just be you being self-conscious, it’s also possible that you have an infection, which is why it’s so important to speak up if you have concerns.
“My breasts are uneven. Is that normal?”
Most women have uneven breasts to a certain degree, says James. But if they’re significantly different and it bothers you, there are options (surgical and non-surgical) that can help.
“Do I taste weird?”
Sure, your doctor isn’t going to put that to the test, but they can check to make sure you don’t have an infection. Streicher says this is often sparked by a comment a woman’s S.O. made which could be valid…or just because her partner doesn’t like giving oral. Either way, it’s good to ask.
“Does this symptom mean I might have an STD?”
This is a super-common question, says James, adding that it’s really important to ask this one. “It’s better to be safe than sorry,” he says. “Tell us about your symptoms and get tested—we can help.”
“Is my labia too long?”
From Streicher’s experience, a lot of women are worried that they’re not normal down there, even if everything looks fine. “People are reluctant to ask that, but they want to know,” she says. Keep this in mind, though: If your labia isn’t getting caught during sex or hurting when you do things like go biking, you’re probably OK. That said, it doesn’t hurt to ask. “We have seen so many, we can tell you if yours is in the normal range, and if it isn’t, what there is to do about it,” says James.
“Is it normal to have discharge all the time?”
Some women just have discharge more often than they don’t, says James, and that’s perfectly normal. If there’s no odor, pain, or itch, it just may be the way your vagina works.
“How do I know if I can have an orgasm?”
James points out that true anorgasmia (i.e. the inability to have an orgasm) is pretty uncommon, so you’re probably fine. However, you won’t know unless you try to get off on your own. If that still doesn’t work, talk to your doctor. “There are very often treatment options to reverse this problem,” says James.
Bottom line: Don’t be afraid to speak up. Says Ghodsi: “We aren’t there to judge you, we are there to help you…we can’t help you if we don’t have all of the facts.”