It's your body ... you think it would cooperate during the times you need it the most. But be it in public, socially, or on the job -- as anyone who's ever had an embarrassing personal moment can tell you -- sometimes your body just has a mind of its own.
From expelling gas, a case of the hiccups, an overactive bladder, and a belch you just can't swallow, to ill-timed yawns, cotton mouth, excessive sweating ... well, you get it. Any and all can easily occur just at the times when you want to look (and feel) your best.
But take heart -- you're not the only one. Doctors say it's more common than you think.
"Sometimes the body just doesn't do what we want it to do. Sometimes it's a result of a problem we already have, like an overactive bladder. But a lot of the time problems like excess gas or sweating can be exacerbated by stress, so it's not uncommon for them to occur when we find ourselves under pressure to be at our best," says internist Marc Siegel, MD, medical director of a new NYU-Sirius Radio program, Doctor Radio.
Moreover, says Siegel, the more pressure we put on ourselves to be perfect, the more likely our body will respond by doing something we don't like.
But regardless of the cause, psychiatrist Virginia Sadock, MD, tells WebMD sooner or later it happens to everybody -- and sometimes the best solution is to just ignore it.
"If your body makes a little blurp or blip that is unexpected, it's really OK to ignore it and keep on doing what you're doing. You don't always have to acknowledge every stomach growl or yawn with an explanation," says Sadock, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine in New York City.
But what if you just can't ignore it? Sadock says acknowledge it briefly and move on.
"Just say, 'Excuse me.' There's no need to go into explanations," she says.
Still, some of these embarrassing problems can be avoided while others can be controlled, at least to some degree.
Of course, usually these are minor annoyances, but if symptoms are new, persistent, getting worse, or associated with other symptoms, then you should get checked by a doctor.
What follows is a guide to the five most common embarrassing body problems, their causes, and some quick tips on what to do about them.
Embarrassing Body Problem No. 1: Bladder Leaks
Whether you have small leaks when you sneeze, laugh, or cough, or a bit larger loss while you exercise, urinary incontinence can cause extreme embarrassment. Known as stress incontinence, it's the most common type of bladder control problem in women. Another type, called urge incontinence or overactive bladder, happens when you have a strong need to urinate but can't reach the toilet in time.