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Hey friends! I’m Simi or as my patients call me Dr. Caxton-Idowu, an Ob/Gyn practicing in Michigan. Let’s light our favorite candle, pour a glass of wine, grab our besties and have some girl talk. Let’s be real, we all have the same questions about our lady parts but are too scared to ask them. This article is not all-encompassing but hopefully, it helps start some dialogue and helps you feel more comfortable when your annual rolls around. So let’s get started…

Is it normal to be nervous during the exam?

Most definitely! But don’t suffer alone. Talk about this with your doctor before you strip down for the exam. State your concerns and a good doctor will walk you through what to expect and take it slow. It’s an extremely intimate exam and you should feel comfortable. Keep in mind we see thousands of bodies of all shapes and sizes and we aren’t here to judge you.

Oh no, I started my period, should I call to cancel?

We deal with vaginal bleeding pretty much every single day so please do not feel embarrassed on our account. Being on your cycle during your annual exam is usually not a big deal and we can still collect your pap smear. So please do not delay your visit just because of your cycle.

Speaking of pap smears, what is it?

A pap smear is a procedure to test for cervical cancer in women. It involves collecting cells from your cervix (the end of the uterus that connects the vagina to the uterus). We use a speculum ( the dreaded cold metal device) to take a look inside and perform the pelvic exam. Remember— we need a speculum to do the pap smear but just because we use a speculum doesn’t mean we are collecting a pap.

Is vaginal discharge normal?

I’ll say it loud for the people in the back—YES! Our vaginas are not meant to be dry! Vaginal discharge is normal and the color and consistency can change throughout your menstrual cycles. Definitely check in with your doc if you are noticing changes in the color, odor or if it’s associated with itching, burning and pain as something more can be going on.

I don’t like the smell of my vagina, what is it supposed to smell like?

The vagina will never be odorless and just like other parts of our bodies we can sweat there, too. The odor can be affected by activity ( please shower regularly— but keep the soap away from your vagina), underwear ( cotton is preferable), and harmful practices such as douching (please stop doing this, it increases the risk of infection). Remember, just wash your vulva with warm water and maybe a mild soap. If you notice a strong odor, make an appointment to see your doc.

Is my vulva normal? I feel like my labia are shaped funny.

Unfortunately, due to unrealistic expectations regarding women’s bodies, many women feel self-conscious. Remember, just like people our vulvas come in so many different shapes and sizes. Love yourself just as you are!

I keep forgetting to take my pill, am I going to get pregnant?

If used perfectly the pill is 99% effective but most of us aren’t perfect and it’s easy to forget and miss pills so, in reality, it’s 91% effective. If you forget to take the pill you should take it as soon as you remember but missing pills can cause irregular bleeding and increase the odds of getting pregnant. If remembering to take a pill is a problem, chat with your doctor because there are many forms of birth control and we can find something that works better for you.

Also, don’t forget about Plan B ( the morning after pill). It can help prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse. It works best when taken as soon as possible but can be used within 3 days of doing the deed.

The condom broke—help?!

Like I mentioned above, take a Plan B as soon as possible. It’s over the counter and you don’t need a prescription. If you are concerned about STIs, talk to your doctor and get tested.

Ouch-Is sex supposed to be painful?

Sex shouldn’t be painful but if you are experiencing this, it could be for a number of reasons. First things first, make sure you have adequate lubrication ( I recommend coconut oil or silicone-based lubricant, personally). If you are still having issues, schedule an appointment with your doc as things like muscle spasms, endometriosis, ovarian cysts or vaginal atrophy could be the problem. Oftentimes this requires an exam.

If I have sex during pregnancy will I hurt the baby?

It is safe to have sex during pregnancy unless you are told otherwise by your doctor. There are certain conditions in pregnancy that make sex a no-no. So check in with your doctor especially if your pregnancy is complicated.

Why can’t I have an orgasm?

First things first—orgasms are not like your first job out of college… DO NOT FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT! There are many reasons why you may be having issues reaching an orgasm. This could be related to stress, the relationship, not enough clitoral stimulation, medications or even an orgasmic dysfunction. Talk to your partner about your needs but also talk to your Ob/Gyn. I promise you; you aren’t alone in this.

So in summary— no, we do not care if you are on your period. Please don’t shave on our account. Yes, you are meant to have discharge and no your vagina is not supposed to smell like sunshine and roses so keep the soap and scented products out of there!

Most importantly, there is no question that it is too embarrassing to talk to your doctor about. I hope you found this helpful. You can catch me on insta as @simsimmarie or if you are in the Southeast Michigan area, feel free to come in for an appointment.