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Embarrassing health questions, answered

Some health issues require an immediate trip to your healthcare provider. Others are simply embarrassing. Read on for answers to some blush-inducing questions and advice on when to see your doctor.

What can I do for painful vaginal dryness?
ANSWER: Vaginal dryness is an unwelcome symptom of menopause, caused by reduced levels of estrogen in your body. Applying over-the-counter (OTC) moisturizing products that are intended to relieve vaginal dryness can be effective. Avoid bubble baths and douches; they cause irritation, not relief.

I sweat more than anyone I know. How can I avoid wet splotches on clothing?
ANSWER: Look for antiperspirants containing 10 percent to 15 percent aluminum chloride hexahydrate, which can help control underarm wetness. When they aren’t effective, it’s time to talk to your healthcare provider, as prescription medications and Botox injections can be an option.

Why do I pass gas so often? It’s so embarrassing!
ANSWER: It’s normal to pass gas 10 to 20 times a day. You may do so more often if you eat a high-fiber diet, including lots of fruits, vegetables and beans, or if you swallow air while chewing gum or drinking through a straw. Gas can also be caused by conditions ranging from lactose intolerance to inflammatory bowel disease. Keeping a detailed food journal, along with a record of when you pass gas, may help you make the connection between your flatulence and something in your diet. Try cutting back on high-fiber foods, and add them back to your diet slowly. OTC products that target gas may also help.

Why do I sometimes pass urine when I sneeze?
ANSWER: Millions of women experience urinary incontinence, often because of the stress placed on the body during pregnancy and childbirth; menopause; or simple aging. Try minimizing the problem by limiting alcohol and caffeinated beverages (they have a diuretic effect, which means they make you go to the bathroom more often). Kegel exercises may help strengthen the pelvic muscles that hold your urine. If these approaches don’t help, your healthcare provider can help you figure out the best treatment for the condition.