Top Health Questions & The Body: FOR WOMEN ONLY

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Female Anatomy 1. What is a hymen?

While some women are born with absent or incomplete hymens, in general, a hymen is a thin membrane that surrounds the opening to the vagina. The most common hymen in women is shaped like a half moon which allows menstrual blood to flow out. Some women have hymens that cover the majority of the vaginal opening whereas others’ are smaller. Every woman will be different.

 

2. How do I know if my hymen has been broken? If it is, am I still pure?

The hymen -- a thin membrane fold at the entrance to the vagina -- can be torn by things other than sex or masturbation. Examples would include sports and tampon insertion. The tearing is not always painful, but often does result in a bit of bleeding. As an aside, virginity means not having had sexual intercourse; it does not mean having an intact hymen.

A torn hymen isn't likely to heal. Having a torn hymen does not make you impure, sexually or otherwise, in itself. Typically, you would be able to tell visually if your hymen was broken if you observed yourself in a mirror. The best way to find out is to visit a gynecologist or your family doctor and ask them if it seems intact.

 

3. Why do some women have small breasts, while others, even their own mothers, have large breasts?

The Doctor says:

Breast growth in girls begins about two years prior to menarche (the start of menstrual periods) and may continue up to four more years, which is to say women’s breast generally grow for about six years. A 2010 Australian twin study found that bra size was fifty-six percent a matter of heredity (genetic). However, not everything in life is genetic, and genes are about predisposition and not destiny. So, a woman’s mother’s breast size says something about her own, but not everything.

Other things during her life may change a woman’s breast size. Since adipose (fat) makes up a good part of the breasts, significant weight loss or gain will also affect breast size in the same direction. Pregnancy, for obvious reasons related to hormonal changes and milk production, will usually enlarge a woman’s breasts. About twenty percent of women will have breast growth after menopause, and the main reason for this is weight gain.

Genes, weight, age, pregnancies, menopause and other factors all play roles in breast size. So the answer to your question about why some women have smaller breasts than their mothers is that they are not their mothers.

 

How it All Works 1. What is puberty? Puberty is the period of life when a person’s sexual organs mature and he or she becomes able to have children.

2. When does it start?

The time when puberty begins varies greatly among individuals; however, puberty usually occurs in females from 10 to 14 yrs old.

 

3. What happens during puberty?

For females, the growth of pubic hair is first followed by the growth of hair in the armpits. A minority of girls, however, begin to develop pubic hair prior to breast development. The onset of menstruation usually happens later than the other physical changes and usually occurs around two and a half years after the onset of puberty.

 

4. Can you explain my period to me?

Simply, menstruation, or your period, is normal vaginal bleeding that occurs as part of a woman’s monthly cycle. It is a sign that she is able to have children.

Every month, your body prepares for pregnancy. If no pregnancy occurs, the uterus, or womb, shed it’s lining. The menstrual blood is partly blood and partly tissue from inside the uterus. It passes out of the body through the vagina. This usually lasts 3-5 days. *www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/menstruation.html.

The length of the cycle differs for each woman, the average being 28 days -- starting from the day you first start your period, to the last day before you start your next.

 

5. When am I ovulating? How do I know?

Once a month, in the middle of your cycle (ie: Day 14 of a 28 day cycle), your body releases an egg from your ovaries. It flows down your fallopian tubes into your uterus. The egg will either be fertilized by sperm, or dissolve if fertilization does not take place. [1] The release of the egg is called ovulation. Some women say they can feel the egg “pop,” a slight twinge of pain in the lower abdomen. Most are unaware of it happening. It is at this point, when the egg is available, that you are fertile (you are able to get pregnant). There must be at least one healthy sperm waiting, available to fertilize the egg within 12-24 hours of the egg being released from the ovary if the woman is to conceive. [2]

Many women experienced a heightened libido at this time of the month. (This means they desire sex when they are ovulating.) If you experience a “time of the month” where you are extra affectionate, cuddly, and desire sex, there is nothing wrong with you. You are probably just ovulating.

[1] www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/anatomyvideos/000094.htm [2] www.americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant-window/

 

3 Things Everyone Should Know About STD’s No fear-mongering here. Just a few things everyone should know to stay safe and stay healthy. Care for your body; it’s the only one you have. 1.  Can I have an STD and not know it?

Yes. Unfortunately, some of the most common STDs have no symptoms in many women, or the symptoms may appear to be from another common cause such as a bladder infection. According to the CDC, there are 19 million new cases of STDs in this country every year, and at least 50% of those are in teens or young adults. For two of them, HIV and herpes, there is no cure. Another, HPV, can lead to genital warts or cervical cancer. So it is important to know if you have an STD. The best way to do that is to be tested by a medical professional.

 

2. What are the 7 Most Severe STDs?

Something can be life-altering and heartbreaking without being lethal. Bacterial infections are very treatable when caught early, but can cause greater problems the longer they are left untreated. This is particularly true for syphilis -- which can infect and damage the brain with time -- but is also true for Gonorrhea and chlamydia (pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, urethral blockage, etc.). Viral infections are often incurable, but may have successful treatments to keep controlled. I think the top 3 here are in order, the rest vary.

- HIV/AIDS - Hepatitis B/C, though C is harder to acquire sexually than B - Syphilis - Gonorrhea (also includes pelvic inflammatory disease) - Chlamydia (also includes LGV and pelvic inflammatory disease) - Human papillomavirus (can lead to cervical cancer) - Herpes Simplex.

 

3. Is it ok to perform oral sex when I have a cold sore or fever blister?

No, it is not a good idea to have oral sex when you have a cold sore. Historically, viral sores on the lips (cold sores or herpes labialis) were HSV type 1, and sores on the genitals were HSV type 2. Both are types of herpes viruses. However, things are less clear now, and either can be found in either location, though it is still more common for the distinctions mentioned above to hold true.[1]

In either case, cold sore viruses can be transmitted to genitals by oral sex. Not the best of gifts.

[1] http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000606.htm