The Questions We’re Actually Embarrassed to Ask

A week or so ago, I got an email from Marie Claire. One of the articles it linked to was 15 Questions About Sex You Were Too Embarrassed To Ask.

There’s not much about sex I’m embarrassed to ask, and when I canvassed my Twitter followers, it seemed that the same was true for them. The questions we were actually avoiding were about beauty or personal grooming – things that society tells us we’re inherently supposed to know. How to get a genuinely smooth shave. Whether it’s normal for hair removal to be something you have to do to your arse, as well as your cunt. What exactly we’re supposed to do with products recommended by magazines and/or other women.

I’ll hazard a guess it’s not just beauty that we’re ashamed to talk openly about. For me personally, it’s less about grooming and more about health. Why do I occasionally bleed after sex? The muscles down my left side don’t work properly: does that mean if I squeeze my cunt around his cock when we’re fucking he feels it more on one side than the other? And, the one that really bothers me: will I ever be able to have children?

This isn’t just a paranoid fear born out of the anxieties that seem to plague a lot of my generation. Many of us have at least one friend who’s struggled to get pregnant. We share stories of not knowing when the hell our periods are due, not only because we have more important things in life to keep track of, but also because the pill, diet and stress all have a massive impact on our cycles. And to me, it always seems weird to rock up at the doctor’s just because something’s niggling at you at bit: I guess I feel a bit like this. Plus, I’d rather worry about stuff than have my fears confirmed. I know, I know…

It was my beautician who first caused those niggling worries to turn into something more concrete. My hair is dark, and if I don’t get it waxed, you can see it on my top lip. That’s normal, I figure, and so that, and my eyebrows, are just one of those things I regularly have to get sorted, in order to feel like a proper girl.

But as she spread hot wax onto my lip a year or so ago, the beautician said ‘Oh. You’ve got a few hairs on your chin, too. That’s often a sign of PCOS.’

She’s right. It is. Along with growing hairs around your nipples, weight gain (which did happen all of a sudden in my late twenties), and that weight sitting low and all up front, making you look like you’re in the early stages of pregnancy. In the last couple of years, three complete strangers have asked me, out of the blue, when I’m due. Ugh.

It’s not just that I prefer to bury my head in the sand, although there’s an element of that. It’s also that admitting to the above makes me feel less feminine, less attractive, things which are already exacerbated by my disability. PCOS can be controlled, with diet, drugs or surgery. It would make sense to find out for sure if that’s what’s really going on. Instead, I changed my beautician.

24 thoughts on “The Questions We’re Actually Embarrassed to Ask

  1. This is a great and really thought provoking post.

    It may be my medical background speaking but always, always ask the health questions that are worrying you…it’s what GPs (or friends who are doctors) are for! Any GP that makes you feel bad for asking those kinds of questions should have picked a different job. If you don’t use an emergency appointment and don’t randomly turn up to A+E, they really can’t complain! I am a doctor and I still do it – I made my GP check my thyroid function last year after an endocrinologist had joked that I looked thyrotoxic and I became a massive hypochondriac about it! Health fears are rarely rational…


  2. As somebody who has PCOS and has spend £1000’s on laser treatments etc I gave in and spoke to my GP who told me to go away and come back when I needed fertility treatment. Really frustrated me, I have no interest in the fertility issues it may cause I just want to feel feminine and less like a freak of nature!

  3. Okay, first of all, really, those are signs of PCOS?! Shit. Well, my next appointment is in May – guess I know what I’m asking my new doctor. And I’m not even concerned about fertility (quite grateful to be done with the child-birthing thing).

    And there was a time I would have been fearful to ask questions about sex – but of course, that’s what I had the internet for, I guess. I have a feeling that people who write or read sex blogs may have an easier time of getting those questions asked and answered than people who don’t read sex blogs. Just a guess, though. But the beauty questions? I was in my 30s before I knew you could use make-up on your eyebrows – if that tells you anything.

  4. God, someone suggested this to me too, and I haven’t followed it up. I think I will though. I just really, really don’t want to have PCOS.

    Unmanaged PCOS has cancer risks too, so … we’d all better bite the bullet.

      • I was just diagnosed after years of too much hair and gaining weight. From what I understand, with PCOS, your liver continues to produce too much sugar which leads to type 2 diabetes and other health problems.. and you continue to gain weight. I have been on metformen (sp) for a few weeks now and the scale is starting to go down.. finally!! Go get tested.. I finally feel like I can succeed and have a life! There are lots of support groups out there too. And if your Dr. won’t help, go to another Dr.

  5. I am in my 20s and have only ever had 2 true periods rather than bleeds caused by being on the pill. It just seemed convenient to me that I never had to worry about such things until my sister mentioned that she had similar symptoms and got herself diagnosed with PCOS. I’ve since had a blood test which showed everything to be normal, so I’ve had to come off the pill, as it can interfere with hormone levels, and am having a second blood test tomorrow and a scan of my ovaries on Friday. I have never been so spotty or had so many nipple hairs in my life! Can’t wait to get back on the pill. It’s definitely worth talking to your dr now as the process of diagnosis takes bloody ages as it’s hard to prove and not life threatening, so not an NHS priority. The drs have told my sister that she will almost certainly be able to have kids, it might just be more of a hassle than usual. I love your blog btw and hope you take the plunge and talk to a dr soon.

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