When was the last time you had a lesson in sex education? Or asked general questions about why your vagina does this, or why it looks like that? The truth is, talking about the weird and wonderful things the female body is capable of can often feel a little awkward.
But why should it? As women, we create life, produce food to feed our young and can have multiple orgasms at a time (!!!). However, inevitably, like with anything 'good' comes the, err, sometimes uncomfortable (more about what a normal vaginal discharge looks like later…).
To discuss some of the less-talked-about nuances of womanhood, we called upon the expertise of Dr Jacqui Tedder and Dr Fiona Cleary. Here, they answer those more intimate questions that are often only ever spoken about behind closed doors.
In short, no. As Dr Tedder explains, the orgasm is a very complex physical, emotional and psychological phenomena that's still not entirely understood.
"Intercourse is just one way people can experience orgasms," she tells us. "There are dozens of ways different people experience them. How this happens may depend on anything from physical anatomy to cultural differences and even social norms. If intercourse doesn't do it for you, experiment with yourself and find what works."
Well, technically, it is possible.
"It is rare, but, yes, you can get pregnant on your period," says Dr Cleary. "Sperm can live in the body for up to five days, so could catch an egg when you ovulate after your period."
"Some people will notice a smell to their own discharge and this is normal," Dr Cleary reassures us. However, she does advise that if your discharge changes in smell, you should book an appointment with your local GP to have it checked out.
"The vagina's discharge will change throughout a menstrual cycle due to different hormone levels," she explains. "Normal discharge doesn't have a strong odour and generally is clear/white."
Not only that, but Dr Cleary says that a very common cause for changed discharge is thrush, where it can be much thicker and white, like cottage cheese. It doesn't have a smell, but can cause itchiness.
Interestingly, thrush can often be confused with bacterial vaginosis (BV), a condition that brings with it a thin, grey discharge and a fishy odour.
"If your discharge changes colour or smell, or if you have associated changes such as itchiness, pain or changes to your period, you should see your GP," says Dr Cleary.
While you can still have sex if you have BV, Dr Tedder says to keep in mind that women with BV have a higher chance of catching other infections during sex.
"Women who have sex with women can sometimes both have the condition (a male cannot contract this condition)," Dr Tedder continues. "I would recommend speaking to your doctor about how it can be treated and prevented if you think you have this."
BV isn't considered a sexually transmitted infection; while it can be caught through sex, it can also be contracted if someone, for example, is using vaginal deodorants or other irritants. In saying that, BV is easily treated, including the use of a new, non-antibiotic treatment available at pharmacies. Just be sure to speak to your local pharmacist about it as it is located behind the counter.
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