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Silent No More

From frequent urination to gas, experts pull the cover off the six most embarrassing women's health problems.
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WebMD Feature

Want in on a secret?

You aren't the only one.

Literally millions upon millions of women live with the perceived shame of frequent urination, excessive sweating, vaginal odor, gas, and other embarrassing conditions. They just don't want to talk about it.

"The most embarrassing conditions are the toilet talk topics, meaning anything having to do with anything that goes on in the bathroom -- including frequent urination, bladder problems, bowel problems, period problems, and vaginal discharge," says Donnica Moore, MD, a women's health expert based in Far Hills, N.J. "Toilet talk is followed by body odors, vaginal odors, and bad breath in terms of embarrassing women's health issues."

But keeping tight-lipped about these issues does a disservice, since many times an effective treatment is available, she tells WebMD. Here are the top six most embarrassing conditions facing women and why you should stay silent no more. Starting with:

Frequent urination. "We know that over 17 million American women have problems with bladder control, and yet people are embarrassed to talk about it because they think that once you are toilet-trained you should be able to 'control yourself,'" says Moore. "We also see these issues as conditions associated with aging, and nobody wants to admit that they are getting older. But one in three women with frequent urination is under 35.

"Leaking urine is abnormal under any circumstances once you have been toilet trained, but the good news is that there are many different treatment options for people with frequent urination," she says. "Health care providers have dropped the ball and don’t necessarily ask patients straight out, 'Do you leak urine?' or 'Do you have any bladder problems?'"

So the onus falls on the patient.

"Your doctor is not going to judge you, and potentially your doctor can help you," she says. "Step 1, make an appointment. Step 2, go. And Step 3, be very up-front and say 'The reason I am here today is because I have a leaky bladder,'" she suggests.

Self-help solutions may just make frequent urination worse. "Some women with an overactive bladder will restrict their fluid intake and that can actually worsen the condition by increasing bladder irritability," Moore says.

Frequent urination is not normal, but it is common in the perimenopausal years, says Jacqueline Thielen, MD, a consultant at the women's health clinic at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minn. Medications, certain dietary changes, and Kegel exercises to strengthen some of the muscles that control the flow of urine may help, she says.

Frequent urination can also be a sign of an underlying illness and requires evaluation, she tells WebMD. It may also be a side-effect of a medication you are taking.

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