Your Most Embarrassing Health Confessions
Istockphoto From Health magazine
Awol tampons, gas, losing your breakfast on the doc? To prove that you are so not alone when it comes to mortifying health mishaps, Health readers shared some of their stories with us. And our own medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, weighs in on when you really do need to talk to your doctor about an embarrassing episode or symptom.
A sticky situation
I sweat a lot. Let me rephrase that: My armpits spurt bodily moisture like a high-pressure firemans hose. Ive tried everything to fix the problem—clinical-strength deodorant, extra layers of clothing—with little to no results. Last summer, I was a bridesmaid in my cousins wedding, which was outdoors during the thick of the July heat.
Knowing full well I was going to sweat profusely, I decided to stick panty liners in the armpits of my cap-sleeved gown. It worked through the ceremony and photos—no pit stains in the wedding album! By the time the reception rolled around and Id had a few drinks, though, Id forgotten about them. As I was dancing with a groomsman, one pad had come out and stuck to his shoulder.
“Whats that?” he asked. I snatched it up and said, “Oh, just my shoulder pad.” I dont know if he believed me, but I was impressed with my quick-thinking save. —Sadie, Dallas
Whats that smell?
A week after my period ended, I noticed an abnormal discharge and a strong odor emanating from down below. I couldnt figure out what was causing it and why, so I scheduled an appointment with my gynecologist. During the examination, he pulled out an icky black lump, which he identified as a tampon. Thats when I remembered that I had put in two tampons on a heavy-flow day and must had forgotten to remove one.
He threw it out, and then asked the nurse to remove the trash. It was obvious why—the thing stunk to high heaven! Even though the doc told me not to worry because it happens often, I was beet-red with embarrassment and definitely learned my lesson about doubling up on tampons. Now I back up heavy-flow days only with pads. —Tina, Atlanta
I gotta go!
When I was pregnant, I was sent for an ultrasound to make sure everything was OK. Because I wasnt very far along, I was told to drink a ton of water. I downed four big glasses before leaving home and took a bottle along for the ride to the clinic. By the time I got there, I was ready to explode—and, of course, they were running late. I waited patiently at first, but as the urge got worse I started getting up every few minutes to ask how much longer.
Eventually, I just laid down across a couple of chairs and moaned. Finally, I begged the nurse to tell me where the bathroom was and that I would reschedule the appointment—if I could please, please, please go pee NOW! I was rushed in to see the technician, who then made me go to bathroom because my bladder was too full for her to see anything. Go figure. —Patricia, Albuquerque, N.M.
A windy waxing
Im lactose intolerant, but I just cant kick my cheese and chocolate milk cravings. The unfortunate result of my dairy bingeing is usually gas, but I consider myself something of a flatulence ninja because Im a pro at concealing it. That wasnt the case, though, when I recently went in for a bikini wax after a night of lactose gluttony. I wanted the full monty, so when the aesthetician was done with my front, she made me flip over on all fours.
As she smeared wax in the most nether regions of my behind, I just couldnt hold it in any longer and accidentally let one rip right in the poor womans face. If that wasnt enough, I fell down laughing, which made my butt cheeks stick together from the wax, so the aesthetician had to separate them and re-apply. Lets just say she got a very big—and (well-deserved) tip. —Sasha, Sheboygan, Wis.
- Next Page: A gross gag [ pagebreak ]
- A gross gag
- I came down with a nasty sore throat and convinced myself it was strep. I canceled all my plans, whined to my friends, and went to an urgent-care clinic so I could get on antibiotics and back on my feet pronto. The doctor took one look at my throat and told me I had a tonsilith, also known as a tonsil stone, which is essentially just gunk (food particles, dead cells) that binds together and forms hard white balls that stick in your tonsils.
I could have waited for them to fall out or had the doc pluck them out himself. I opted for the latter. The doctor went in for the kill with a swab, but Id forgotten to tell him about my very sensitive gag reflex. With one little nick of my throat, I threw up right on his arm. At least we were in a sterile environment and I had eaten a light breakfast. —Kate, New Brunswick, N.J.
When I was 21 years old, I got my first yeast infection while on vacation in Greece. A doctor recommended that I pick up some over-the-counter medication and gave me a list of helpful hints for treatment and prevention. I pored over the list and focused on the benefits of yogurt, so I picked up a carton of the traditional, thick Greek cultures and slathered the stuff all over my crotch—right before boarding a 12-hour boat ride to one of the islands.
As the temperature got hotter, I became more and more uncomfortable, not to mention smelly. My cousins on the trip noticed, too. Thats when I told them about my self-treatment, and they informed me that the yogurt was supposed to be eaten, not slathered on below! —Maria, Alexandria, Va.
A “hairy” tale
Thanks to menopause and stress, I have drastically thinning hair, which Im really self-conscious about. So late one night after a few glasses of wine, I ordered a “hair replenishing” product that was being sold on TV. When I received it, I realized it was basically just a spray designed to camouflage thinning spots on your head. I thought, What the hell. I ordered it, so I might as well use it.
And, although it did make my hair look less thin, I found out the hard way that it wasnt exactly waterproof. One day, I got stuck in a downpour during my lunch break—and I returned to the office in my white shirt that sported a newly-dyed brown collar … the same shade as my hair. —Denise, Keene, N.H.
My husband and I were celebrating our five-year anniversary the same day I had to go to the doctor for a general checkup. Since I was going immediately to our date after my appointment, I dressed accordingly, meaning sexy dress and even-sexier panties.
I didnt realize that the doctor was going to do a full-body mole check and ask me to strip down to my bra and underwear (with a robe), and I immediately regretted wearing the G-string I had personalized to say “Happy anniversary, Tom. Your present is underneath.”
I hoped the doctor wouldnt see it, but halfway through the screening, he said, “I take it Tom is a friend of yours?” I wanted to die. —Jocelyn, Boston