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Your Embarrassing Health Questions Answered

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"Help! I'm sweaty all the time."

It could be hyperhidrosis, a condition in which perspiration exceeds what's needed to maintain ideal body temperature. "Nobody knows what causes it," says Patricia Farris, M.D., clinical associate professor of dermatology at Tulane University. It tends to run in families and often shows up first in your teens or twenties, so keep an eye on your kids as they enter adolescence.

  • Doctor Yourself: Wear dark-colored cotton clothing, which dries quickly and can help conceal sweat marks. Also, apply antiperspirants in the morning and before bed to all your sweatiest areas: Soft solids go on easy under arms and bra straps as well as along the hairline; try aerosols on feet and between toes. Look for products labeled "clinical strength." They contain more of a sweat-duct-blocking ingredient than regular formulas.
  • Call Your M.D.: When these remedies still leave you self-conscious, ask about prescription antiperspirants (such as Drysol) or prescription oral medications (such as Robinul, which prevents the stimulation of sweat glands). Periodic Botox injections and miraDry (a new procedure using microwave technology) also provide long-term results, but only for armpits.

"There's a bad smell down there."

It's completely normal to have vaginal secretions, which are usually clear or whitish with almost no scent. "But a change in consistency or odor means you may have bacterial vaginosis (BV), an infection due to the overgrowth of naturally occurring bacteria," says Dr. Merrill-Nach. Sometimes it also causes a fishy smell that worsens after sex. While BV is the most common vaginal infection in premenopausal women, its cause is unknown.

  • Call Your M.D.: Unfortunately, there aren't any OTC treatments for BV, so you have to dial your ob-gyn. You'll need a prescription antibiotic, such as metronidazole, that's taken orally or as a vaginal cream. If symptoms return, a second round of antibiotics should do the trick, says Dr. Merrill-Nach.

"I'm constipated...again."

We've all been there. Constipation is one of the most common GI complaints in the U.S. But how often you go isn't the issue. "It's about how you feel," says gastroenterologist Felice Schnoll-Sussman, M.D., acting director of the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health at NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City. "You're constipated when you're straining, you have hard stools or sense your bowels are not emptied."If you don't get adequate fluids or fiber—or are on pain medications or supplements such as calcium and iron—you may be more likely to get backed up.

  • Doctor Yourself: Drink the recommended nine cups of water per day, and aim for 25 grams of daily fiber from whole grains, fruits and veggies. Or try stool softeners, an OTC supplement containing psyllium (such as Metamucil or Konsyl) or osmotic laxatives (such as Miralax). Regular exercise also helps bowels move, says Dr. Schnoll-Sussman.
  • Call Your M.D.: Report any change in bathroom habits that lasts a few weeks as well as unexplained weight loss, rectal bleeding or fatigue, which can be signs of colon cancer.