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7 embarrassing health questions answered

The human body is amazing. But sometimes, it can do some cringe-worthy stuff that isn’t always easy to talk about. 

From burps to body odor to bodily functions, there are a lot of sensitive topics that go un-discussed because of embarrassment, fear or fear of being judged. 

Here are 7 embarrassing questions that often don’t get asked.


1. Why am I so gassy?  

Gas is a normal part of digestion and typically isn’t a medical issue. It can be embarrassing and sometimes become a literal pain. 

Some common causes for more-than-normal belches and flatulence include:

  • Foods that are hard to digest, including high-fiber and high-sulfur foods, dairy products, starchy foods, and food containing sugar alcohols like xylitol.
  • Digestive system conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes and diverticulosis.
  • Food intolerances, including celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and lactose intolerance.
  • Certain medications, including antibiotics, decongestants, and multivitamins.

If gas discomfort (and its embarrassing byproducts) impact your daily life, it’s a good idea to get it checked out.


2. What should I do if I’m constipated?

Think you’re weird because you can’t poop? Join the crowd. In the U.S., around 2.5 million people visit their doctor each year because they’re constipated. 

There’s no set formula for how often you should go, but if it’s been three days and you haven’t poop, it’s probably too long. 

There are loads of constipation causes, including:

  • Not drinking enough water.
  • Not eating enough fiber.
  • Eating too many dairy products.
  • Changes to your activities or diet.
  • Changes to your routine, such as traveling.
  • Stress.
  • Older age.
  • Some medications.
  • Digestive disorders.

In some cases, constipation can be a sign of something more serious, including an intestinal obstruction, cancer or other illness.

Home remedies can help, including:

  • Increased water consumption, including warm liquids.
  • Added fruits, vegetables, and bran to your diet.
  • Exercise.
  • Over-the-counter fiber supplements.
  • Cutting back on alcohol, caffeine, processed meats, fried foods, and refined carbs like white bread, pasta, and potatoes. 

If you can’t find relief, a health care clinician can get the bottom of what’s causing your constipation and help you get things moving.


3. Why do I sweat so much? 

Sweat is normal and is your body’s amazing way to keep things cool and flush out chemicals. But when perspiration becomes a persistent problem and you’re always wet with sweat, something else may be going on.

Excessive sweating with no underlying medical cause is called primary hyperhidrosis. The condition often starts in childhood and may be hereditary. It’s estimated that around 15.3 million people in the U.S. have the condition, although that number is likely higher because people are too embarrassed to tell a health care provider.

Heavy sweating can also be a symptom of other health conditions, including:

  • Diabetes.
  • Heart conditions.
  • Anxiety and stress.
  • Thyroid issues.
  • Hormonal changes.
  • Pregnancy.

If you experience excessive sweating, it’s important to talk with a health care clinician to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment.


4. Why am I itchy ‘down there’?” 

Vaginal and vulval itching are common. Some potential causes include:

  • Yeast infection.
  • Sexually transmitted infections or sexually transmitted diseases (STIs and STDs).
  • Skin reactions or allergies.
  • Jock itch.
  • Depleted estrogen that comes with aging.
  • Hemorrhoids that spread to the vaginal area.
  • Vaginitis caused by bacteria or an infection.

Occasional itching down there is normal. But if it gets worse or continues, it could be a symptom of something more serious. You should see a health care clinician if you:

  • Notice blisters or ulcers on your vulva.
  • Experience vaginal pain or tenderness.
  • Notice redness in or around your vagina.
  • Have pain or discomfort during sex.
  • Notice unusual discharge.
  • Have difficulty peeing.

 Listen to your body when it speaks to you. If your symptoms are persistent or interfere with everyday life, don’t hesitate to get treatment – and relief.


5. Why do my feet smell?  

Everybody’s feet stink at some point, especially if you’re an athlete or exercise regularly. When moisture mingles with bacteria on your skin, it can cause your feet to have a strong vinegar smell.  

Some causes of smelly feet include:

  • Excessive sweating.
  • Stress.
  • Hormonal swings.
  • Athlete’s foot. 

Smelly feet can also be a sign of a skin disorder, diabetes or a thyroid condition. 

At-home remedies may help tamp down foot odor:

  • Wash and dry your feet daily with antibacterial soap.
  • Soak your feet for 10-30 minutes in a mixture of Epsom sale and warm water.
  • Thoroughly dry your feet after showering, bathing, swimming or soaking. 
  • Wear cotton socks.
  • Try a small amount of cornstarch in your shoes to ward off moisture.
  • Use over-the-counter foot anti-odor remedies.
  • Avoid wearing shoes for more than two days in a row to allow them to dry out.
  • Spray shoes with disinfectant and let them dry outdoors for 24 hours.
  • Sprinkle antifungal powder between your toes if you suspect Athlete’s foot.

If odor-controlling measures don’t work, talk with a health care clinician. Something else may be afoot.


6. Do I need to get tested for an STI?

A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is a serious condition that you can get during any kind of sexual activity, including vaginal, oral or anal sex or using fingers. In the U.S., there are more than 25 million STIs reported each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And rates are on the rise.

If you or your partner are planning to have sex, or you’ve already had it, it’s important to get tested for STIs. If not treated, STIs can lead to serious health problems.

To learn more about symptoms, common infections, prevention measures and treatment options, check out this guide to STIs.


7. Is it normal to feel sad?

Sadness is a natural part of being a human. Life deals out a lot of ups and downs, and everyone feels blue or down sometimes. It’s also normal to feel sad when you’re grieving a lost loved one, a lost job or a myriad of other disappointments.

But if your sadness is constant, interferes with your life or activities, and leaves you feeling empty and defeated, something isn’t right with your mental and emotional wellbeing. 

If you experience depression symptoms most of the day, every day, for more than two weeks, talk with a clinical provider. They can evaluate your symptoms and offer treatment options to improve your symptoms. 

Remember, depression is not a sign of weakness or failure or a reason to feel ashamed. It is a common and treatable condition.


How do I talk with my doctor about embarrassing health issues?

You don’t need to live with uncomfortable symptoms – and you shouldn’t leave your medical care to Google.  

When it comes to intimate and awkward questions, a talk with a health care clinician is relatively painless. Living with uncomfortable or worsening symptoms, anxiety and fear isn’t. Your concerns can only be addressed if your doctor knows about them. 

Here are some tips on how to make the conversations easier:

  • Rest assured that nothing is off limits. Clinical providers are up to their eyeballs in bodily fluids and functions. (Trust us…they’ve heard it all.) Don’t hold back for fear of being judged. And don’t forget that what you share is completely confidential.
  • Write it down. A lot goes on at medical appointments and it’s easy to get nervous and distracted. Before your visit, make a list of questions or concerns to bring with you.
  • Be honest about your embarrassment. It’s important for your health care clinician to know that you are uncomfortable. Start the convo with something like, “I’m very nervous talking to you about this.” 
  • Be direct and specific. It might not be easy, but it’s important to get to the root of what’s bothering you. If sex is uncomfortable, describe exactly where it hurts.
  • Consider bringing a friend or loved one. Ask a trusted partner or friend to go to your appointment with you if you think you need support or would feel more at ease discussing sensitive issues.
  • Ask questions. Doctor-speak can sometimes be confusing. Don’t hesitate to pose follow-up questions and ask for clarification. You’re not just there to listen.
  • Try a virtual appointment. It may be easier to discuss intimate issues from the comfort and familiarity of home.


Got questions? Indigo has answers 

At Indigo, our health care clinicians are here to address your health concerns and questions – even the most awkward ones – all in a stigma- and judgement-free zone.

We treat most minor injuries and illnesses, including STIs and STDs, yeast infections, UTIs and even weird rashes. And all our clinicians offer confidential onsite testing and can prescribed medications, if needed. And when you need additional care, we’ll provide a referral to a specialist. 

Simply walk into one of our convenient neighborhood Indigo Urgent Care locations or book an appointment online. If it’s more comfortable and convenient to skip the in-person visit, you can schedule a same or next-day appointment with an Indigo Virtual Care clinician. 

Indigo Virtual Care also offers mental health screenings for adults 18 and older.

Virtually and in-person, we’re here every day from 8 am to 8 pm, including weekends and holidays.

A better way to get better.

Health care that’s friendly, easy, and centered around you.

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