On the path to adulthood, we’ve all faced our fair share of challenges.
We’ve overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles in our personal and professional lives. We’ve had to find our voices and stand up for ourselves. We’ve learned to be fearless in so many ways.
But all of our bravery often goes out the window as soon as we need to talk about some weird things going on with our bodies. Then we suddenly turn into a mumbling mess of mortification.
This happens more often than you might think.
In one 2015 commercial survey by Zocdoc, they found that 46 percent of American respondents didn’t tell their doctors about certain health problems due to embarrassment or fear of judgement.
That’s nearly half sacrificing their physical comfort because of a little mental discomfort — and even possibly putting their lives at risk.
Because here’s the thing: Those embarrassing little problems can occasionally be big warning signs for some seriously dangerous medical issues.
Take care of them now and you could be on the road to health before you know it.
So, what do you absolutely need to mention at your next doctor’s appointment? We’re so glad you asked!
Problem #1: You sweat profusely all the time
When perspiration soaks through your shirt even though you’ve barely exerted yourself, it’s hard to feel like anything other than an awkward 15 year old.
But hyperhidrosis — the fancy word for excessive sweating — isn’t an uncommon problem.
According to 2016 research, an estimated 4.8 percent of Americans (about 15.3 million people) experience it. While most said it negatively impacted their lives, only 51 percent had discussed it with a doctor.
Treatments, such as topical creams, injectables like Botox, or electro-therapy, can lessen the symptoms, so there’s no reason to suffer in silence.
So it’s important to check in with your doctor if you’re sweating more than normal.
Problem #2: Your anus is itchy
Just reading that sentence will likely make you cringe or let out a nervous laugh. But say it with us: The anus is just another body part.
Yes, you may head to the doctor quickly if you see blood in your stool or are experiencing pain, but you might be more hesitant to discuss this itchy problem.
Your first line of defense should be to make sure you’re wiping thoroughly, haven’t started using a new detergent or soap, aren’t eating spicy or citrus foods that could exacerbate the itch, and don’t have hemorrhoids — which, while annoying, aren’t dangerous and are treatable.
However, if an itch persists — seemingly for no reason and no matter what you do — it could point to a number of issues, including a skin condition like eczema or psoriasis. It may also suggest diabetes, a sexually transmitted infection, a yeast infection, parasites, an autoimmune disease, or even anal cancer.
Problem #3: Your poop has been really weird for a while
Unless you happen to be a 7- to 10-year-old boy, you probably don’t want to talk about poop.
But if it doesn’t look as it should — smooth and sausage-like, for lack of a better descriptor — for an extended period of time, you really should.
The consistency, color, and smell of your stool can reveal a lot about what’s going on in your body. For example, chronic constipation may mean that you’re not drinking enough water — or that you have a condition like inflammatory bowel disease or even cancer.
There are a number of poop possibilities and potential diagnoses too long to list here — which is exactly why you should call your doctor.
Problem #4: Your nipples look different
Before the men reading this article scroll down to the next awkward health scenario, a word of warning: Don’t!
You’ve obviously got nipples, too, and you can also get breast cancer. While it’s nowhere near as common as it is in women (it accounts for less than 1 percent of all breast cancers), it can be more deadly.
Why? Researchers theorize that men may not realize they can even get this type of cancer, so it’s not on their radar.
In fact, one small study found that it took an average of 16 months between a man’s first symptoms and a breast cancer diagnosis.
All that said, for men and women, lumps are the most common breast cancer symptom, but nipple problems can also be a telltale sign. About 7 percent of people with breast cancer reported nipple abnormalities.
Look out for red, scaly, or itchy skin that isn’t caused by an allergen or friction from clothing, as well as nipple flattening, inversion, or discharge.
Problem #5: Your breath is deadly
If horrible halitosis (bad breath) happens often, a breath mint isn’t the answer.
But if that doesn’t solve your problem, the bacteria helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) could be the culprit.
You’ll want to get that checked out, since H. pylori left unchecked may cause stomach ulcers and gastric cancer.
Bad breath can also sometimes be a symptom of lung cancer, kidney failure (which would result in a fishy smell), metabolic problems, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), sleep apnea, or even simply postnasal drip.
Problem #6: You’ve got weird hair in weird places
Ladies, if you’ve ever encountered errant chin hairs (or dark, coarse hairs in other ‘new’ places), and they keep coming back no matter how many times you pluck them, then this one’s for you.
Instead of booking a wax, you may want to make an appointment with your doctor: Normal changing hormone levels due to aging could be the cause — but more significant hormonal imbalances could also be to blame.
Problem #7: Your feet are super funky
If you feel the urge to keep your socks on at the doctor’s office — and not because of the cold floors — you’re not alone.
Rank feet ranks right up there with problems that make people turn red. But itches and odors, often the result of a fungus or bacteria, can be treated — and pretty easily, at that.
Other issues, though, are more troubling. A straight, dark stripe on your toenail (or fingernail), for example, could be melanoma, while pale nails could result from anemia, liver disease, or heart problems.
Other surprising links: Foot wounds that have difficulty healing could point to circulation problems or diabetes, and extremely dry skin and brittle nails could be signs of a thyroid issue.
Problem #8: You’re having problems in the bedroom
Sexual issues can have medical roots, not just psychological or emotional ones.
For example, a 2018 study found that men with erectile dysfunction are twice as likely to have heart disease or experience a stroke.
Low libido in both sexes could be a side effect of certain medications — including ones that treat high blood pressure, depression, and hair loss — or a result from sleep apnea.
And if a woman experiences pain during sex and more foreplay or lube isn’t the answer, problems could range from an easy-to-treat infection to ovarian cysts, fibroids, endometriosis, or cervical cancer.
You need some sexual healing stat — the kind that can only come with a doctor’s visit.
So you see? It’s important to pipe up when you’ve got a problem — no matter how embarrassing you feel it might be.
Your quality of life shouldn’t suffer because you’re worried about what someone else may or may not think. Remember: Men and women in the medical profession have seen it all, and it’s literally their job to help you.
Dawn Yanek lives in New York with her husband and their two very sweet, slightly crazy kids. Before becoming a mom, she was a magazine editor who regularly appeared on TV to discuss celebrity news, fashion, relationships, and pop culture. These days, she writes about the very real, relatable, and practical sides of parenting at Momsanity. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.