We’ve all been there.
That moment of pulling your undies down when you’re about to use the toilet, noticing something unusual – be it weird coloured period blood, smelly discharge or a strange lump or bump – and silently wondering, “Is this normal? Should I be worried right now??”
And let’s face it, hopping on top of that cold exam room bed and spreading your legs for your doctor or gyno to take a closer look at your potentially unhealthy vulva isn’t exactly at the top of most women’s Favourite Things To Do lists.
But ignoring your vagina’s sophisticated system of red flags for signalling something’s up can have far worse consequences than those few minutes of discomfort lying on top of that crinkly paper in your doctor’s office. Which is why you need to know what to take note of and what’s not worth getting stressed over. Here are the top four symptoms you definitely shouldn’t ignore next time you drop your underpants…
Our vaginas are awfully clever things. They’re designed to constantly self-lubricate, keeping bacteria at bay and making sex all smooth sailing…if you get our drift!
So if your vagina is regularly dry, particularly during intercourse, resulting in burning, stinging and general discomfort during penetration, or even tampon insertion, you should book in to see your gyno.
There are several factors that can contribute to persistent vaginal dryness, including anxiety, certain medications like antidepressants, menopause, hormonal imbalances and vulvodynia, most of which are easily treatable with lifestyle changes, and in some cases medication. Your gyno can also recommend a vaginal gel or lubricant to ease discomfort in the meantime.
Specifically, blood that shows up directly after, or during, intercourse. Unless you’re currently menstruating, or have recently started on a new contraceptive pill (many of which can cause light breakthrough bleeding), blood that appears post sex should definitely be cause for concern.
In many cases, your partner may have simply accidentally scratched the delicate tissue inside your vagina, however bleeding during sex can also be a sign of a vaginal infection or STI, so even if you’re fairly convinced the cause of yours is innocent, it’s best to book in to see your doc anyway, just to be safe.