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All Your Embarrassing Health Questions--Answered!

By: , – Arricca SanSone, Family Circle
7/23/2013 6:00 AM   :  2 comments   :  10,373 Views

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You've nursed your kid through icky ailments—remember that lice outbreak?—and lived to tell the tale to the stranger seated next to you on a plane. You've even compared detailed notes on the birthing experience with your BFF. Yet there are some health issues you're way too mortified to bring up even with your M.D. So you e-mailed them to us. We didn't blush once—but we did get the solutions you seek.

"Why do I get diarrhea during my period?"

Things are bad enough during that time of the month. So what's with the annoying changes in bathroom habits to boot? Here's what's happening: "During your cycle, your uterus produces chemicals called prostaglandins that cause cramping," says Suzanne Merrill-Nach, M.D., an ob-gyn in private practice in San Diego. Overproduction of prostaglandins means cramps can occur in the uterus and the intestines, causing diarrhea.
  • Doctor Yourself: Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen (Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve), to reduce prostaglandin production a day or two before your period starts. Should you miss that window, try popping an over-the-counter (OTC) anti-diarrheal medication, such as Imodium, on the bad days.
  • Call Your M.D.: If your diarrhea is not controlled by OTC meds, you may have an underlying condition (such as endometriosis) and need alternate therapy.
"Why do I feel so bloated after eating?"

There's no question about it: What you ingest can make you gassy. But there's plenty of irony in the fact that the best foods for you—beans, veggies such as broccoli, and dairy products—create the worst gas. And some people are just more sensitive to the discomfort than others.
  • Doctor Yourself: "Keep a food diary for two weeks," suggests Patricia Raymond, M.D., associate professor of clinical internal medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk. "Watch for patterns. Gas typically occurs a few hours after eating, so you may be able to trace what's triggering yours."When dairy products seem to cause bloating, try OTC lactase supplements like Lactaid. For general gassiness, OTC medications such as simethicone (consider Gas-X), activated charcoal and Beano may provide some relief.
  • Call Your M.D.: Should bloating worsen or if it's not the only symptom, ask your doctor whether a more serious issue (anything from gluten sensitivity to ovarian cancer) could be affecting you.
"Where did this mustache come from all of a sudden?"

"I jokingly call it a 'birthday gift,'" says Nia Terezakis, M.D., a dermatologist in private practice in New Orleans. "As we get older, estrogen drops, leading to higher androgen levels, and we may develop more facial hair." It runs in families, so a mom or aunts who are hairy mean you may be too.
  • Doctor Yourself: Plucking, waxing, bleaching and depilatory creams are inexpensive solutions. Even shaving is fine—it's a myth that the hair grows back thicker. The diameter of the hair that comes through the skin surface appears thicker because it's not tapered.
  • Call Your M.D.: Laser hair removal and electrolysis are long-term fixes, lasting for years. But they're expensive and require multiple visits, says Dr. Terezakis. A less pricey option is Vaniqa, a prescription cream that slows hair growth. But tell your doctor about any other symptoms (hair on your chest, acne, irregular periods), which may be signs of a hormonal imbalance called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
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