Most Embarrassing Questions
Q: Why does an “innie” navel pop out when a woman is pregnant but not if she just gains a lot of weight?
A: The growing fetus, uterus, and buildup of amniotic fluids cause the abdomen to expand rapidly during pregnancy. So much pressure so fast stretches the skin and ultimately turns an “innie” navel into an “outie.” During normal weight gain, the stretching is much more gradual, so theres no intense, outward push on the abdomen. If your transformed belly button alarms you, dont worry: It should become an innie again in a few months postdelivery. On the off-chance that it doesnt (this happens infrequently), minor plastic surgery could restore innie status.
Q: Im dying to try these detoxifying pads Ive seen on TV, but my friends think theyre a joke. Worth it or not?
A: These pads claim to leach toxins and even cellulite from your body through the soles of your feet while you sleep, thanks to a mixture of bamboo vinegar and other “100 percent all-natural ingredients.” But no scientific evidence thus far supports their efficacy. So why do the pads turn a seemingly toxin-rich brown overnight? Most likely they contain chemicals that react with the perspiration, oils, and warmth of your feet in some way. My advice? Save your money and down a glass of water to help your kidneys flush out toxins the truly natural way.
Q: Ive got a fishy vaginal odor but no increased discharge or other symptoms. What might be wrong?
A: That fishy smell could be a symptom of a common condition known as bacterial vaginosis, or BV. It occurs when theres an upset of the balance of good bacteria (known as lactobacilli) and bad bacteria in your vagina. Other symptoms of BV may include unusual vaginal discharge, pain, itching, or burning, but BV can be symptomless or recognizable by yucky odor alone. (Yeast infections, which can also cause itching and discharge, dont cause this odor.) BV is common during pregnancy. Other known causes: sex with multiple partners, using a diaphragm, or douching (which removes those helpful lactobacilli from your vaginaso dont do it!). Forgetting to remove a tampon or leaving one in too long can also throw the vaginas bacterial balance out of whack and cause a stink. After the tampons removed, the odor should clear up quickly. If you have any odor for more than 48 hours, see your doc. BV is diagnosed with a simple lab culture and treated with antibiotics.
Q: My husband has warts on his hands. Could I get them if he touches me down there?
A: Theres a small risk, but its highly unlikely. Hand and genital warts are caused by different strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV. (Most strains are harmless.) On rare occasions, though, the strain of HPV that causes warts on hands can indeed cause warts elsewhere. To be extra-safe, have your husband wear thin latex gloves during any sex play until his warts are gone. (He should treat them with over-the-counter salicylic-acid medication; if they persist, he should see a dermatologist.) Even after that, make sure you dont have any cuts, nicks, or open sores down therethese can spread HPV even when all warts are gone. The HPV vaccine is no help in this case: It protects against separate strains of HPV and is not recommended for women over age 26.
Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is an assistant professor of medicine at NYU Medical Center.