Three Sexual Health Symptoms You Should Never Ignore

Roshini Raj, MD, is the author of What the Yuck?: The Freaky and Fabulous Truth About Your Body

Regular visits with your health care provider are critical for your sexual health. But it’s not enough. You also need to understand your body, to recognize changes that are out of the ordinary, and to communicate these concerns quickly with your health care provider. No matter how "icky" you think they may be.

Although it is normal to feel embarrassed when discussing your sexual health, certain situations – such as pain or discomfort in the vaginal area and changes in your menstrual cycle – may be your body’s way of telling you that something isn’t right. It’s important to schedule an appointment with your health care provider as soon as you think there might be a problem. Here are three symptoms that deserve medical attention:

Changes in your period. If your cycle becomes irregular, you experience heavy bleeding, or you stop getting your period altogether, you should check with your health care provider immediately. Your health care provider will be able to determine if this is due to changes in your lifestyle such as diet or something that requires medical attention like polyps.

If you notice any bleeding that is not associated with your period, such as bleeding during or after intercourse, you should check with your health care provider as soon as possible since this sort of bleeding can indicate injury to the cervix. In rare cases, vaginal bleeding can also be a sign of other conditions such as fibroids, even some types of cancer. If caught early, these conditions can often be treated successfully.

Pain or discomfort. If you’re experiencing pelvic pain, you should see your health care provider. Vaginal discomfort is not only unpleasant, but it can be a sign of infection. Women who have pelvic pain should speak with their provider, especially if the pain disrupts daily life or gets worse over time.

Sudden weight loss or gain. If you gain or lose a significant amount of weight, it is important for your health care provider to know as this may affect your prescriptions and other recommended treatments. If the weight loss or gain is unexplained, this may be a symptom of an underlying health problem that your provider will want to investigate.

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