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Most Embarrassing Health Questions Answered (Part 1)

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by Linda Moon (subscribe)
... a dreamer, freelance writer, massage therapist, naturopath, mother & drop-out social work student living, working and writing in the Blue Mountains. When not occupied with the real world, she writes fantasy.
Published February 18th 2013

While the questions below tend to incite giggles, embarrassment and social discomfort, anyone who suffers from these maladies knows they are no laughing matter. Here's some answers to those awkward questions you might be too embarrassed to ask anyone.

1. Is it possible to catch genital herpes from oral sex?

In short, yes. You can catch herpes on the mouth from performing oral sex with someone with herpes on the genital area and you can also transfer herpes to them if you have it on the mouth and perform oral sex on them.

The herpes we associate with cold sores and genital herpes, are actually two of eight different herpes viruses. Herpes simplex 1 just happens to like hanging out in the trigeminal nerve of the face, whereas herpes simplex type 2 prefers to hang out in the nerve cells in the sacral ganglia. However, the fact is you can get either form of the herpes simplex virus on either part of the body, with both viruses affecting the mucosal surfaces of those regions.

As you probably know, the herpes simplex virus is transferred via skin to skin contact with an infected person. There is some debate as how long the infection is contagious but it is thought to be from the time the infection starts its customary tingling, pain and numbness until all scabs have gone.

According to old ABS statistics(1999-2000) a whopping 1 in 6 Australian women and 1 in 12 men over 25 years have genital herpes. Take note and don't take chances with spreading or contracting this common virus.

2. Is it normal for my fanny to smell? Is it okay to use hygiene products 'down there'?

Okay, so this is a double question, but as the first automatically leads to the second, let's deal with it too.

While some smell is normal down there, the secretions of a 'clean' vagina are generally odourless. Foul smells emanating from the nether regions can be indicative of infections such as bacterial vaginosis, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, yeast infections, urinary tract infection's pelvic inflammatory disease and less commonly, cervical cancer. Signs and symptoms of infections include discharges, pelvic pain, redness and inflammation, pain during intercourse and burning on urination. If in doubt, get yourself checked out.

Now, onto the subject of feminine hygiene products. While these may help short term to mask the problem, long term the chemicals and perfumes within them are likely to irritate and aggravate this sensitive area by disrupting the pH and the good bacteria that reside there. Thus, use of feminine hygiene products 'down there' is more likely to exacerbate the problem by increasing the risk of infections. As usual with most health problems, better to deal with the issue from within.

3. How do I get rid of my dandruff?

There are few things less desirable than those tell-tale white flecks on dark clothing. Funny how no-one tells you about them.

Dandruff has several causes, but the most common is a naturally occurring fungus on our skins. In some people, their scalp reacts to this yeast by flaking. Stress, low immunity and poor diet can exacerbate yeast infection. In some people, it is hair products that are to blame. These can dry out, or irritate the scalp, leading to flaking.

The best remedy for dandruff is anti-yeast medicated shampoos. Tea-tree oil, a natural anti-fungal, also acts upon yeast, but please don't ingest - this is for topical use only. A diet low in sugars and yeasts and high in zinc, selenium and omega 3 fatty acids will also help. Alternatively, take a supplemental form. Examine the products you use on your hair and try alternatives.

4. How often should I poo?

In Naturopathy school, we were taught that ideally people on the kind of utopian, natural and roughage rich diet naturopaths prescribe, should empty their bowels three times a day - or once after each major meal. However, taking into account modern diets, a daily motion is considered normal and healthy.

Having said that, what is normal will vary a little with each individual and their genetic background. Some people inherit lazier bowels than others. Whilst many factors, including medications and exercise, can influence bowel frequency, low roughage diets and insufficient fluid intake are probably the most common reason for not going enough.

5. What can I do about my stinky breath?

Hmm. Another one of those problems no-one tells you about.

Bad breath, technically known as halitosis, can have a variety of causes including bacteria on the back of the tongue, smoking, dental issues, such as gum infections or poor oral hygiene, post nasal discharge such as that caused by chronic sinus problems, reflux from the gut, dry mouth and less commonly by a number of more serious health conditions such as cancer, diabetes and kidney failure.

First stop is to consider the cause and then secondly to treat it.

Tongue brushing, flossing, saline nasal sprays (for sinusitis) staying hydrated, and treating dental problems are some of the things that can assist. High protein and low carb diets and acidic drinks (such as soda pop, coffee and alcohol) have also been discovered to cause bad breath.

Using naturally anti-bacterial drinks and foods or essential oil containing herbs (such as green-tea, cinnamon, mint, fennel, rosemary, parsley and basil) can fight the fumes. Vitamin C rich foods will help fight the bacteria within your mouth and crunchy, raw fruits and vegetables stimulate saliva that promotes better oral health.

Get stuck into those strawberries!

Fresh mint from the garden. Great natural breath freshener.
Chew on some fresh mint from the garden to sweeten your breath naturally. Peppermint also contains oils that combat bacteria and is a great digestive aid.

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