Do you ever have a headache and worry that you actually have a fatal brain tumor and you suddenly only have a few months to live? I cannot be the only one who goes into full on paranoia mode whenever something in my body feels off, and decides to–stupidly–consult with Google to help provide answers to my concerns. This usually leads me to Web MD to read an article that convinces me that I have some sort of awful disease. Of course, that’s usually not the case, and while having some chill about health woes is probably a good rule of thumb, you should never ignore something that seems off. Your vagina is a good example. Anything that seems off about it could have a plethora of reasonable explanations or could be a mere fluke, like your vagina was just having an off day. But why assume that when it could actually indicate something more serious?
Unfortunately, beyond the basics of the reproductive system, a lot of people with vaginas really don’t know much about them. For example, the average person has never even learned about vaginal discharge in school or elsewhere, so it’s not hard to believe that they might not know what’s normal discharge or not. That’s why, as much as we don’t want you to freak out about every little itch or pain happening down there, you deserve to know when your vagina is truly acting off. Check out these eight signs that something is actually wrong with your vagina.
Your Period Is Suddenly Super HeavySome people have naturally heavy periods without issue besides blasting through half a box of tampons in three days. Also, sometimes your period changes over time and just ends up being heavier than it was a few years ago. But if your period becomes incredibly heavy out of nowhere, then that might be something to be concerned about. You might be experiencing anything from a ruptured cyst to an ovarian issue. If you're soaking up an entire pad or tampon within an hour, you should go see a gynecologist and make sure that everything is okay. Carrie
Your Vagina ReeksLook, your vagina isn't supposed to smell good. Nobody's vagina smells like roses and cinnamon rolls. But there's a difference between a vagina that just smells like sweat and skin, and a vagina that straight up smells like an old fish. If your vagina starts smelling like that, or weirdly yeasty, you probably have an infection and should get it checked out. Friends
You Experience Intense Pelvic PainCramps are pretty common when you're on your period, but that pales in comparison to other pelvic pain you should actually be alarmed about. For example, if you experience intense pelvic pain when you're not menstruating, you might have pelvic inflammatory disease, a bacterial infection that spreads through your reproductive system. Or, you could be experiencing painful uterine cysts due to polycystic ovarian syndrome, a condition triggered by hormonal imbalance. Hell, if you experience extreme, debilitating pain during your period, that's cause for concern too because you might have endometriosis, a condition in which your uterine tissues grow outside of the uterine walls. Do not ignore extreme pain, dude. Period. And don't let anyone convince you that you're over-exaggerating. If you're in pain, get help. Ginger Snaps
Penetration (Of Anything) Is Nearly Impossible-scary-movieWhether it's a tampon, a gynecological tool, or a penis, it is almost impossible for anything to penetrate your vagina. And if a valiant attempt is made? The pain is excruciating. Again, this could just be a matter of not being used to the awkwardness of penetration, or it could be a condition like vaginismus, which is characterized as an inability to engage in vaginal penetration due to involuntary muscle spasms. It could be due to psychological distress--anxiety or guilt about sex, unresolved sexual trauma, etc--or physical trauma. It doesn't hurt to talk to your doctor about it if you're concerned. Scary Movie
Your Discharge Has ChangedYour discharge changes throughout your cycle, ranging from thick, stretchy, and opaque to slippery and clear AF. That's normal. What isn't normal is frothy discharge, discharge that looks like cottage cheese, discharge that has a distinctly green or yellow tinge to it on a regular basis...basically, discharge that looks completely different than it has ever looked before. Don't panic. This could be a run of the mill yeast infection or a bacterial infection. Or, it could be a sign of something more serious like an STD. Either way, see a doctor about it instead of relying on Google (or us) for all the answers, especially if it is accompanied by irritation or odor. Sarah Wintner
Intercourse Is Excruciatingly PainfulPainful intercourse could happen because of everything from a lack of vaginal lubrication, to stress, to a plain ol' lack of experience. But if you experience ridiculously painful intercourse even if you're all lubed up and calm as a cucumber, you might be experiencing a condition known as dyspareunia. While this can be a physical condition caused by vaginal tearing, pelvic trauma, or tissue issues, it can also be due to psychological issues stemming from anxiety, sexual abuse, etc. Again, there's a big difference between just not being used to intercourse or not having enough lube, and literally having incredibly painful and intercourse on a regular basis. Take some time to figure out what it might be and respond accordingly; if you think you have a chronic condition, talk to a doctor or therapist. Skins
You're Really Itchy And In General Pain Down ThereIt's pretty natural to get itchy down there after, say, you removed the hair of your bikini line. But this isn't about itchy ingrown hairs. This is about itchy bumps or rashes all up and around your cooch. If it is coupled with general vaginal or pelvic pain? Woof, you might just have an STD or a gnarly bacterial infection. Please check it out with a doctor ASAP before it gets worse (or before you spread it!). Oh, and please, use a condom. The To-Do List
You're Spotting Between PeriodsSpotting between periods is pretty common if you're taking birth control or if you have uterine fibroids, but that doesn't mean it's nothing to worry about. If you're spotting on BC, maybe consider changing it. If you experience spotting because of fibroids, talk to a doctor about treatment options or about getting those fibroids removed. If you're spotting and you have no clue why, then you definitely need to talk to a doctor, period. Getty Images
Do you often worry about whether or not your vag is behaving normally Tell us in the comments!