If you're freaking out about something going on with your body and landed on a million different websites all with conflicting answers, then take a deep breathe, get yourself a nice cup of Earl Grey and chillllll. We've rounded the most frequently asked DOLLY doctor questions, handed them over to the professionals and asked "Is this normal?!" First up...
1. THERE ARE BUMPS ON MY VAGINA.
WHEN IT’S NORMAL: “If it looks like a lump under the skin, it could be an ingrown hair or pimple,” says Dr Philip. “Most of the time these bumps are caused by blocked skin glands, which can become cysts. These are fairly common and can be treated by your doctor if they become uncomfortable.” Don’t be tempted to squeeze bumps as this might cause infection.
WHEN IT’S TIME FOR A CHECK-UP: “If the bumps feel hard and painless, have a cauliflower-like surface or feel itchy, burn or look like a sore or lesion, it’s a good idea to get tested for STIs,” says Dr Philip.
2. MY TAMPON OR PADS ALWAYS LEAK.
WHEN IT’S NORMAL: During your period, you should be changing your pad/tampon around four to five times a day. Make sure you're buying the right absorbency pad or tampon for your flow.
WHEN IT’S TIME FOR A CHECK-UP: ““A normal cycle lasts between four to seven days. Bleeding for more than eight days would be considered a very heavy period. If you’re flooding pads, passing large clots or having accidents, consult your doctor,” says Dr Philip.
3. IT HURTS TO PEE.
WHEN IT’S NORMAL: This one is never OK. If it hurts or burns, get it looked at right away.
WHEN IT’S TIME FOR A CHECK-UP: It's important to see a doc if it stings when you pee. “It could be a urinary tract infection, where the urethra (the tube that expels pee from the bladder) becomes inflamed,” says Dr Ginni. “This is very common and is often accompanied by a feeling of needing to pee all the time. A prescribed dose of antibiotics will do the trick,” she says. "However, if a urine infection isn't the cause of this burning sensation and you're sexually active, it could be a sign of chlamydia." Pop along to your local sexual health clinic or doctor and get tested, stat.
NEXT UP, BODY ODOUR...
4. IT SMELLS DOWN THERE.
WHEN IT’S NORMAL: A faint smell generally doesn’t mean anything, but it's good to be aware of changes down there. "A healthy smell will be light musty or slightly stale,” says Dr Philip. Things like diet and exercise can influence aroma, so don't be alarmed if you've, say, just finished a high-energy dance class and the odour seems a little stronger. Your monthly cycle also plays a part.
WHEN IT’S TIME FOR A CHECK-UP: Excessive fishy odour combined with discoloured or lumpy discharge or irritation indicates a possible infection. If you notice these symptoms, it's worth going to see a doctor.
5. I’VE GOT STINKY UNDERARMS.
WHEN IT’S NORMAL: Body odour is caused by bacteria that finds its way to warm, moist areas like your armpits. “This means unpleasant body odour is not directly caused by sweat like most people think. It also helps to explain why someone might be very sweaty and not at all smelly, while others can perspire a little but be really stinky,” says Dr Linda.
WHEN IT’S TIME FOR A CHECK-UP: You shouldn’t need to see the doctor about this little problem. Just check you’re using deodorant with antiperspirant and opt for clothing made with natural fibres (ie. cotton, silk).
6. MY BREATH SMELLS.
WHEN IT’S NORMAL: “Most of us have horrible breath when we wake up in the morning -this is completely normal,” says Dr Linda. “Foods like garlic and onions, too much dairy or excessive exercise can also contribute to bad breath,” she says. Brushing your teeth after meals, regular flossing and upping your fluid intake can all help in the bid to stay minty-fresh. You can also try chewing mints, gum, or herbs like parsley.
WHEN IT’S TIME FOR A CHECK-UP: “If you can't identify the cause of your pongy breath, it could come down to something like a tooth or gum infection. A trip to the dentist might be the answer."
7. I HAVE HAIRY BOOBS.
WHEN IT’S NORMAL: In general, girls shouldn’t have hairy breasts although it's not uncommon to have a few stray hairs close to the nipple area, especially as your body goes through puberty.
WHEN IT’S TIME FOR A CHECK-UP: “If do you have lots of hairs on your nipple area, accompanied by acne, it might be down to too many androgens (male hormones) circulating in your system,” says Dr Linda. “It’s worth visiting your doctor as you might need a hormone test.”
8. THEY'RE TOTALLY UNEVEN.
WHEN IT’S NORMAL: Boobs aren't twins, so it's completly normal to have one that's slightly bigger than the other. During puberty it can be normal for one boobs to develop faster than the other. It's likely they'll even out.
WHEN IT’S TIME FOR A CHECK-UP: When one breast is considerably larger, such as a whole cup size, than the other it's best to have it checked out by your GP. There are options to correct this, such as surgery.
9. THERE'S STRETCH MARKS ON THEM.
WHEN IT’S NORMAL: This is very common as this part of the body grows quickly during puberty. You can't get rid of them but they will fade.
WHEN IT’S TIME FOR A CHECK-UP: You don't need to see the doctor for this problem but if they are really troubling you, you can try using vitamin E or aloe vera cream to help them fade faster.