It often seems like you can find the answer to anything on the internet, from where to buy the best pho to Harry Styles’ shoe size.
And yet, hard as it is to believe, Google can’t tell you everything, especially when it comes to your own body. Oh sure, it can lead you to some terrifying or reassuring info, depending on its whims, and if you don’t turn off images, you’ll glimpse some horrors you might never forget.
But when it comes to your vagina, periods, and reproductive system, only a gynecologist who sees you in person can provide a diagnosis. To prove it, let’s look at some of the top questions people search for, and why an M.D is a better bet than Dr Google…
Why am I having this discharge?
It could be any number of reasons. If it’s smooth and white or clear and you don’t notice any odor, it’s unlikely to be a problem. Just before you ovulate, it’s likely to get thicker and stickier. But if it’s thick and you have itching, it could be vaginal thrush. Yellow, green, or orange, with or without a stench? Probably an infection. But even if you pinpoint the cause, it’s always better to get it checked out, as you may need antibiotics, antifungals, or another treatment that a gyno can dole out but a search engine really shouldn’t.
What does bleeding between periods mean?
Spotting all depends on context: What it means for you will be different to what it means for someone else. Have you changed birth control methods recently? Been going through a stressful time? Could you be pregnant? If you have a yeast infection or an STI, it could also be connected to that. A far less likely explanation is that it’s a symptom of endometrial cancer, but only a doctor can say for sure.
Why have my cramps gotten worse?
Most people who menstruate have painful periods at some point in their lives, and even when there’s no underlying health issue, they can be debilitating. But if you’ve always breezed through your bleeding, it’s understandably going to be a shock to find yourself doubled over and wailing for an ibuprofen IV. There’s a number of things it could be, including pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, fibroids, or an IUD, if you’ve had one inserted. There’s no one explanation for everyone, but there is one way to find out more…
Why is my period lasting so long?
As we’ve covered, many of us spot between periods, but sometimes a period doesn’t seem to want to stop. If your period has lasted more than a week, there might be something going on. Longer periods can be a sign of menopause, but for younger women PCOS, medication changes, stress, and non-cancerous growths (i.e. fibroids or polyps) are more common. Whether it’s one or a combination of the above, however, only someone with a medical degree can tell you.
Is my vagina normal?
First of all, what do you mean by “vagina”? A lot of people use the term for the internal body part when what they mean is “vulva” (the bits you can see on the outside). If you’re worried about how it looks, you might want to look up the Labia Library website, which was designed to showcase the huge variety out there.
If you do actually mean vagina, it depends what you mean by “normal”. Pain, difficulty having sex, inability to orgasm – there are so many issues you could be having, any of which might mean you need treatment. None of those make you or your body abnormal, but so far doctors have proven to be better at solving them than algorithms have.
If you’ve been feeling anxious or insecure about your body, we hope this post helped a little. But we can’t say it enough: If there’s anything you think you need help with, shut down Google, Chrome, Firefox and their friends and seek your gyno’s advice, stat.