While you might think your problem is unique and beyond humiliating, your gynecologist has doubtlessly heard it many times and regards it as standard fare. Trust me, it’s virtually impossible to shock your gynecologist. Here are a few questions that my patients have asked me, every single one prefaced by, “I’m really embarrassed to ask this, but …”
Embarrassing Question: “The only way I can have a bowel movement is to put my fingers inside my vagina and press down."
Answer: This is typical of a question that doesn’t come up when having lunch with your girlfriends. You most likely have a rectocele, a condition in which the tissue that supports the floor of the vagina becomes so thin that the rectum actually bulges into the vagina, much like a hammock that has become loose over time. It’s the equivalent of a dropped bladder, except it involves the back of the vagina, not the front. Instead of stool going down a straight tunnel, it gets trapped in a “turn in the road” – hence the necessity to push down. “Splinting” is the term we use to describe the need to put manual pressure on the vagina or perineum in order for the stool to come out. You would be amazed at the number of women who, like you, splint routinely. Mild rectoceles require no treatment, but if it is bothersome, a minor surgical procedure can put things back where they belong.
Embarrassing Question: “I’ve been married for six months, but I’m still a virgin. My husband and I attempted to have sex a couple of times, but it was too painful, so we stopped trying. Now, I feel like something’s wrong with me, and I don’t want to tell anyone.”
Answer: Unconsummated marriages are more common than you might think. The first step is to tell your gynecologist. Some women have an unusually thick hymen or another easily correctable physical condition that makes intercourse difficult or painful.