Even More Questions You’re Too Embarrassed to Ask Your Doctor About

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Cute African American womanSome problems are harder to talk about than others. Your doctor may be a professional who has heard it all before, but it can be difficult to reconcile that knowledge with how red faced you feel at the mere thought of admitting, say, that you wet the bed. To help ease embarrassment and make broaching sensitive subjects easier, consider a few more answers to commonly asked, but personal subjects.

Why Do I Wet the Bed?

Often considered a problem for babies and small children, the truth is that bed wetting (called “enuresis”) affects about one percent of the teenage and adult populations. The extent of the issue can vary from person to person, with one experiencing only occasional episodes while another has it happen almost every night. There are a few different reasons for bedwetting and some are more serious than others.

The muscles and nerves that control the bladder’s release may not be fully developed and cannot hold urine in as long as normal or, alternatively, the mechanism that reduces urine production at night could be undeveloped. This is more common in teenagers and simply represents different rates of development. It should go away in time.

Substances like alcohol or coffee have diuretic properties and some heart or blood pressure medication have similar effects as well. Some sleep medications can also put you into a sleep so deep that you won’t wake up to empty a filled bladder.

Urinary infections can also agitate the bladder and make holding urine difficult. Diabetes can also result in bedwetting as the body boosts urine production to remove excess sugar from the blood.


  • Don’t take diuretic medication or drink coffee or alcohol within three hours of going to bed.
  • Talk to your doctor about alternative sleep medications if you take them.
  • Monitor your blood sugar before bed if you’re diabetic.

See Your Doctor If

  • You are an adult without a history of bedwetting.
  • You experience difficulty controlling your bladder during the day.
  • You have increased thirst.
  • Your urine is off-color, cloudy, or smells.

Why Does My Butt Hurt?

Anal or rectal pain can be alarming, distressing, and embarrassing. One way to figure out the cause can be to try and look at the kind of pain being experienced.

A knife-like, stabbing pain (sometimes described as “passing glass”) during a bowel movement can be the result of an anal fissure. This is a small tear in the mucosa (mucus-lined tissue) of the anus. It’s harmless, but immensely uncomfortable. The pain from an anal fissure can last some time after the bowel movement is over.

A more prolonged ache that is aggravated by a bowel movement can be a case of hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in the anal canal and can be agitated by the pressure of passing feces. This pain can sometimes be accompanied by bright red blood as well.

Frequent aches can be caused by back issues where part of the spine is pressing on a nerve it shouldn’t be.


  • Don’t deny your sphincter. Holding in bowel movements for fear of pain inevitably makes the problem worse as the feces dries out and becomes harder to pass.
  • Eat high fiber foods and stay hydrated to make passage easier.
  • Use soft or tap-moistened toilet paper and apply using a dabbing gesture rather than wiping motion.
  • Try Preparation H.
  • Try painkiller gels, but only if they are labeled as safe for anal use.

See Your Doctor If

  • The pain worsens over time or becomes strong enough to disrupt sleep.
  • The pain does not appear connected to the bowel.
  • You feel a tenderness or swelling on the rectum.

Why Does My Pee Smell?

Under most conditions, urine has a very mild smell so we tend to only notice it when something changes. As you might imagine, the exact cause is going to depend on what your pee has started to smell like.

In the event that your pee smells stronger than normal and appears darker, the problem is likely dehydration. Less fluid in your body means more concentrated urine, so the regular smell becomes amplified.

If your pee smells rank, the culprit may be your diet. One of the more well-known causes of changes to urine scent is asparagus, which can produce a skunky odor. This is due to a substance called methyl mercaptan, which is found in certain vegetables. Not everyone has the enzyme that can process methyl mercaptan and so asparagus won’t make everyone’s pee smell equally. Alternatively, a urinary infection could be to blame since it can result in an ammonia-like odor and cause changes to urine texture and appearance.

Sometimes, your pee can smell surprisingly sweet. If you have high levels of blood sugar, your body is going to try and expel it through urination. This creates pee with a somewhat buttery, almost popcorn-like smell. As a result of this trait, doctors used to taste a patient’s urine to test for diabetes. Some people are also born with an inability to process certain amino acids, resulting in “maple syrup urine disease”, which does exactly what the name implies. Maple syrup urine disease is most problematic in infants where it can cause muscular or neurological issues if not recognized.


  • Monitor your blood sugar if you have diabetes.
  • Stay hydrated to help flush your system.

See Your Doctor If

  • The symptom is coming from an infant.
  • Urination is accompanied by pain and/or blood.
  • Urine appears cloudy.
  • You have trouble sating your thirst.

Why Is My Poo Green/Black/Red/Gray?

Your stool can come in a brilliant rainbow of colors and all of them should be paid attention to. The first thing to get out of the way is that your diet can change the color of your bowel movements, especially if you are eating food with a lot of dye in it. Food choices aside, the color of your stool can serve as an important indicator of your gastrointestinal health and shouldn’t be ignored.

Red or black stool indicates the presence of blood. Red stool or bright red blood in the bowl means that the bleeding can be caused by factors like internal hemorrhoids or an anal fissure. Most of the time, red is not an emergency but it can be a sign of something that has ruptured, so don’t discount it. Dark red or black, tar-like stool means that the blood is coming from further up in the GI tract and has gone through at least part of the digestive process. This is actually a significant problem and the source of the bleeding needs to be identified as soon as possible by your doctor or an emergency room.

Green stool is the result of bile, which is a substance the liver produces to help digestion. As waste is digested, it turns from green to brown until it ultimately becomes stool. In cases where stool passes too quickly through the body (like in diarrhea), it doesn’t get a chance to fully “ripen” into its normal color, leaving you with a green bowel movement. Green coloration can also come from eating a lot of vegetables.

Gray stool is a special concern that means something is stopping your liver from producing enough bile. If this happens more than once, seek medical attention immediately.


  • Stay hydrated.
  • Reduce your iron intake if it is higher than normal.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption as this can aggravate bleeding.
  • Improve fiber intake.
  • Talk to your doctor in order to rule out a serious underlying condition.

See Your Doctor If

  • You experience abdominal pain, dizziness, vomiting, loss of appetite, or any other GI related symptoms.
  • You have gray or black stool.

Sources for Today’s Article:
“Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD),” Healthline web site, http://www.healthline.com/health/maple-syrup-urine-disease#Overview1, last accessed November 19, 2015.
Steam, M., “Bed-wetting in Teenagers and Adults: Causes,” EmbarrassingProblems.com, December 30, 2011; http://www.embarrassingproblems.com/problem/bed-wetting-adults/bed-wetting-adults-causes.
Steam, M., “Anal Pain,” EmbarrassingProblems.com, April 4, 2012; http://www.embarrassingproblems.com/problem/anal-pain.
Watson, S., “Urine Color, Odor, and Your Health,” WebMD web site, http://www.webmd.com/urinary-incontinence-oab/features/the-truth-about-urine?page=2, last accessed November 19, 2015.