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Embarrassing health question?

Nothing is taboo when it comes to your health, says this primary care physician.

Article Author: Beth Stambaugh

Article Date:

Woman holding hands over face looking embarrassed

Talking to your physician about sensitive health issues can be a little uncomfortable. Whether it’s a sexual problem, hidden rash, body odor or an emotional issue, don’t let embarrassment keep you from getting the care you need.

I always appreciate when a patient trusts me enough to ask personal questions. Here are a few I get: 

Why do I sweat so much?
Sweating is normal – it cools your body down when you need it. Make sure you’re using a combination antiperspirant/deodorant. Deodorant masks odors, and an antiperspirant blocks sweat glands, which decreases sweat. You need both.

If that doesn’t help, talk to your doctor about other alternatives, like a prescription antiperspirant or other treatments. For example, Botox – the same treatment that smooths wrinkles -- can also block armpit nerves that stimulate sweat glands.

Heavy sweating can be caused by hormonal changes, medications (some antibiotics, antidepressants and pain relievers), but could also be a sign of more serious medical condition like diabetes, thyroid issues or an infection.

Of course, it’s normal to sweat when exercising, in the heat or when you are nervous. But if you’re sweating more than usual or have other symptoms, talk to your doctor.

Why do I have such bad breath?
Halitosis, or bad breath, can be embarrassing, but most people have it at some point.

Most often, it’s related to oral hygiene or dental issues. Particles from food can remain in your teeth and collect bacteria. Plaque buildup and cavities can also lead to bad breath. So make sure you’re brushing, flossing and scrubbing your tongue daily. Also drink plenty of water and see your dentist regularly.

Rarely, bad breath can be caused by other medical conditions. Some examples include xerostomia (a condition known as dry mouth), diabetes, reflux, an upper respiratory infection, sinus issues, and even kidney/liver disease. Smoking or using tobacco products can also cause bad breath.

Mouthwash, mints and gum may help with bad breath, but only temporarily. If you’re constantly trying to mask bad breath, you should see your dentist or doctor. 

Why are my feet stinky?
Increased moisture and warmth cause feet to sweat, which creates an environment where bacteria can grow. Fungal infections, like athlete's foot, can also lead to bad foot odor.

One way to prevent this is to wear good-quality shoes with breathable features, such as leather or mesh, along with wearing socks with moisture-wicking features. Another idea is to use insoles with odor-preventing or antibacterial features. If that doesn’t help, try putting antibacterial or anti-fungal powder in your shoes.

Why am I constipated?
Constipation is defined as three or fewer bowel movements a week. Occasional constipation is normal, but chronic constipation can cause abdominal pain, bloating, cramps, decreased appetite and fatigue.  

Rarely, a more serious medical condition or medications can be the cause. Chronic constipation can be the result of a blockage in the colon or rectum. A blockage can slow or stop stool movement (such as bowel obstruction or cancer). Neurological problems (such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease) and abnormal hormones (such as those caused by thyroid issues, pregnancy or diabetes) can also be to blame.

Some ways to avoid constipation include:

  • Drink plenty of water daily
  • Eat high-fiber fruits, vegetables and whole grains with every meal
  • Avoid being sedentary
  • Exercise regularly and manage stress

If you’re still suffering from constipation, see your doctor.

How much sex is normal?
It’s normal to wonder if you’re having more or less sex than others. There is no “normal” amount of sex. There are many factors that influence frequency such as health, job stress, age, and relationship status.


Couples in the first few years of a relationship typically have sex more often. This can decrease after children or with other life changes. The “normal” amount of sex can be different for each person.

The key is finding the frequency that is right for both of you. Every couple is different and communication is the key.

Our guest columnist is Jami Feltner, MD, an internist with Baptist Primary Care. If you’re looking for a doctor, call 904.202.4YOU or visit baptistjax.com/referral. 

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