...adapted from about.com
We all keep secrets. But some secrets - if you keep them from your doctor - can hurt.
A problem you consider to be simply embarrassing may be a symptom of an undiagnosed medical condition - possibly a treatable condition.
Are you hiding from your doctor something from your past? You may think it's irrelevant to today, but your doctor may see it as very relevant. And if you're hoping to get pregnant, it's even more important to be honest with your doctor. What are these secrets? These ones...
Painful bowel movements
Bowel movements can be uncomfortable, but they shouldn't be painful. I'll never forget a friend who would practically pass out when defecating. She never told her doctor about the pain. She thought it was just "something weird" about her body that she had to deal with.
There are a number of conditions that can cause pain during a bowel movement. Endometriosis can cause pain when defecating and sometimes also when urinating. The symptoms typically worsen around your period. Endometriosis can also cause infertility.
Another common cause of painful bowel movements is Irritable Bowel Syndrome. IBS alone won't impact your fertility. However, IBS and endometriosis can occur together. IBS patients are more likely than the general population to later be diagnosed with endometriosis.
Endometriosis is difficult to diagnose, so it's especially important you share this symptom with your gynaecologist if you're experiencing it, even if you already have another diagnosis (like IBS) to explain your pain.
Vaginal dryness/if you don't get wet during sex
Usually, when a woman is sexually aroused, glands near the vagina secrete a fluid. These arousal fluids make sex more comfortable and also provide healthier environment for sperm.
If a woman experiences vaginal dryness, she or her partner may assume it's due to a lack of sexual arousal. If they proceed with having sex anyway, she may experience painful sex.
Because the woman may feel shame or embarrassment for not "getting wet" as expected, she may never tell her doctor or realise this can actually be a medical issue.
However, vaginal dryness is nothing to be ashamed of… and it may have little to do with a lack of sexual excitement.
Vaginal dryness can be caused by a hormonal imbalance, a vaginal infection or irritation, or as a side effect of a medication. It is also a possible side effect of Clomid.
You can use a fertility-friendly lubricant to make sex more comfortable. But don't leave it at that. You also should tell your doctor. If it's a medication side effect, there may be other options that won't cause dryness. If it's a hormonal imbalance, that's an important symptom your doctor should know about.
Depending on the cause for the dryness, your doctor may prescribe estrogen suppositories. It can also be treated with over-the-counter creams and lubricants.
Sex shouldn't be painful. Occasional discomfort can be normal. However, if you regularly experience pain, tell your doctor.
Painful sex can be caused by a number of conditions, many that may affect fertility. Endometriosis, fibroids, pelvic adhesions, and pelvic inflammatory disease, for example, can cause pain during sex and also cause infertility.
Painful sex itself can also make it difficult to conceive. Some women will experience painful intercourse especially around the time of ovulation - which is just when they need to have sex to get pregnant.
Others have pain due to vaginal dryness, which not only can make sex uncomfortable but also harm your odds of getting pregnant. If sex hurts, tell your doctor.
Sexually transmitted infection
If you had a sexually transmitted infection in the past, and it was successfully treated with antibiotics, you may think it's not important to tell your doctor. But you really should, especially if you're planning or currently trying to get pregnant.
While antibiotics can treat the infection, STDs can often cause scaring of the reproductive organs. The antibiotics won't remove or heal the adhesions left behind.
Blocked fallopian tubes and hydrosalpinx (a specific kind of blocked fallopian tube) can cause infertility. You may experience no other symptoms besides an inability to conceive, so don't assume that a lack of pain or lack of pelvic discomfort means everything is okay.
Don't want your partner to know you had an STD in the past? Remember that your doctor cannot share your private medical information with anyone else, including your significant other.
Unusual vaginal odour
Body odours are generally attributed to poor hygiene. We have soaps and deodorants for those kinds of problems. But if you notice a strange or particularly pungent vaginal odour, don't just cover it up with douching or feminine deodorants - for two reasons.
First, abnormal vaginal odour can signal an infection. Bacterial vaginosis can lead to foul vaginal odours. During pregnancy, bacterial vaginosis can increase your risk of pre-term birth. It can also make you more susceptible to contracting a sexually transmitted infection.
Untreated bacterial vaginosis is associated with pelvic inflammatory disease, which can cause infertility. These are all good reasons to put the feminine hygiene product down and, instead, tell your gynaecologist.
The other important reason not to use douche products for vaginal odours are that they can cause irritation and infection themselves. Douching washes away the healthy vaginal mucus that naturally keeps the vagina clean and free of bad bacteria.
If you're unsure whether your vaginal odours are normal or the kind that signal an infection, ask your doctor. Don't be embarrassed to ask – you're not the first to wonder.
Lack of interest in sex
"I don't feel like having sex," sounds like something you might say to a psychologist, not your gynaecologist. But a lack of sexual desire can be a sign of a medical issue.
Sexual desire is rooted in the biochemistry of our bodies. When you're approaching ovulation - your most fertile time - hormones connected to sexual desire increase. This is nature's way of making sure humans have sex at the best time for making babies.
If you're not experiencing this boost in sexual desire, it could signal a hormonal imbalance. You should tell your gynaecologist.
Excessive facial or body hair growth
Excessive facial or body hair growth - known as hirsutism - is a possible symptom of hormonal imbalance. Specifically, it signals that there may be a problem with your androgen levels.
Most commonly, polycystic ovarian syndrome is the culprit. Other possible causes include non-classical adrenal hyperplasia, HAIR-AN Syndrome, Cushing's Syndrome, and ovarian or adrenal tumours.
All of these conditions can cause infertility. Many can also affect your overall health. You can keep waxing - but do tell your doctor about the hair growth.