We’ve all been there, you spot something that doesn't seem quite right with your body but you're too afraid to ask someone about it. Whether it’s a ~fragrant~ vagina or stray nipple hairs, don't freak out. We asked general practitioner Dr Melissa and gynaecologist Dr Claire to set us straight on all those awkward questions you probs didn’t want anyone to find in your internet search history.
1. How large should my vaginal lips be?
Dr Claire says: “They should normally be no more than around 5cm each if you stretch them out, so about 10cm altogether. The trouble is, we’re exposed to pornographic images that are airbrushed so we get unrealistic ideas about what our vaginas should look like. Lots of them are asymmetrical and there’s a big variation in size. The most important thing is to make sure they don’t change in size dramatically. If they do, you should have a chat with your doctor.” 2. What does it mean if my vagina smells?
Dr Claire says: “Usually this means the bacteria in the vagina is out of balance. We’ve all got bacteria in our vagina and sometimes you can get an overgrowth, which is called bacterial vaginosis. You might need treatment, but it can also get better by itself. The second cause could be trichomoniasis , which is sexually transmitted. You’ll have discharge that could be frothy or smell quite offensive and the area can be itchy. This one will need antibiotics.”
3. Is it normal to have hair on my nipples?
Dr Melissa says: “Absolutely, as long as the hairs are growing out of the areolae (the dark circles around the nipples), not on your chest itself. The areolae contain hair follicles that can grow thick, curly hairs a bit like pubic hair. You can pluck these gently, a bit like plucking eyebrows, or you can just leave them. If the hair is actually on your chest, then you could see your doctor for a hormone check.” 4. How much discharge should I have in my underwear?
Dr Claire says: “Discharge is the natural way for the vagina to clean itself, so it’s normal to have some in your underwear, but the amount is different from person to person. If you’re experiencing more than you usually do, it could be thrush, or an infection like trichomoniasis.” 5. Can I sleep with a tampon in?
Dr Claire says: “You can sleep with your tampon in as long as you change it just before you go to bed and first thing in the morning. It’s best to change tampons regularly, however they can be left in for up to eight hours if necessary. They’re much safer to leave in than they used to be because of changes in the materials used, so the risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is very low now.” 6. Why is my vagina itchy?
Dr Claire says: “This could be a symptom of thrush, which happens when we produce too much of the yeast bacteria that naturally live in the vagina. Other symptoms could include thick discharge, stinging when you pee and redness. You can get thrush from being run down, taking antibiotics, or the contraceptive pill – there are many causes. It’s not sexually transmitted, and if your doctor diagnoses you with thrush, it can easily be cured with a cream or oral tablet from the chemist.” 7. What’s the normal amount to masturbate?
Dr Melissa says: “There’s no ‘normal’ amount. When you go through puberty and your body gets all those hormone surges, it can feel good to masturbate. You might want to masturbate every day, a few times a day, or not at all. There’s no right or wrong. It only becomes a problem if it gets in the way of other parts of your life, or makes you feel bad.” If you do experience a body issue that’s got you worried, be sure to hit up your GP instead of going to Dr Google, it's safer for your search history too. XOXO