You pick up the phone. You put it down.
You pick up the phone. You put it down. Again.
You have a question for your primary care doctor, but you’re positive she’ll think you’re crazy for asking it. Or that she won’t have time for such trivial matters because she’s too busy for “that kind of thing.” So you hesitate calling the office. And your question drives you crazy as it goes unanswered.
“There are no crazy questions,” says Virtua family medicine physician Nermin Lazarus, DO, who provides primary care EXCLUSIVELY for women. “I’m not going to make any judgments about you based on your questions. If you don't ask them, they’ll only cause you stress.”
These are some of the “not-so-crazy” questions Dr. Lazarus gets asked (but usually only after a lot of prompting).
It’s normal for sex to be painful sometimes, right?
No. Sex should be pleasurable and definitely not painful.
“Painful sex often is the result of vaginal dryness, which is very common in women over age 40 who are going through peri-menopause. It’s also common in younger women who recently have had a baby,” says Dr. Lazarus. “It’s really important to share this info with your doctor because often it’s easily treatable. There are lots of treatments that can help, including lubricants, hormone creams, hormone replacement therapy, as well as some of the newer bio-identical hormone treatments.”
I feel angry all the time and all I do is yell at my kids. Am I losing it?
“This is so common among women today, but I often have to ASK a woman how she’s coping with stress before she’ll come out with it,” says Dr. Lazarus. Work, kids, chores, driving, unexpected life events – all of these things can increase agitation and make a woman feel like she’s falling apart.
“Sometimes, a woman just needs to hear that she’s not alone in feeling that way. We all try to put on a façade of the perfect mom, wife, and businesswoman, when in fact we are far from perfect, and that’s ok. My first suggestion is to try things such as deep breathing, yoga and regular exercise, all of which help relieve stress. I also recommend getting enough sleep and eating healthy meals, as fatigue and a steady diet of junk food can deplete energy and stress tolerance.”
When necessary, Dr. Lazarus will prescribe counseling and/or appropriate medications that work in conjunction with lifestyle modifications to relieve anxiety and agitation and help women regain control of their feelings and their lives.
This spot on my arm is nothing to worry about – is it?
“Women feel like this is a question more suited to a dermatologist, but I see and treat minor skin issues all of the time,” Dr. Lazarus notes. “I carefully evaluate skin problems and definitely will refer patients to a dermatologist for suspicious spots and more serious skin problems – especially when they’re on a woman’s face.”
The skin issues that confuse women the most are:
- Spots that appear to be scabs but don’t heal.
- Moles that seem harmless but have changed shape or gotten larger.
Dr. Lazarus advises: “When it comes to your skin, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. It’s NOT crazy to ask about even the smallest spot. It could end up saving your life.”
Am I losing my hair – or my mind?
If you’re noticing that your part is getting wider or that your hair feels unusually thin, you’re probably not seeing things. You could be losing hair.
While hair on your pillow or brush can be normal, excessive amounts can indicate a problem. “It doesn’t necessarily mean permanent hair loss. It could be a temporary problem caused by stress, medications, metabolic issues like hypothyroidism, or even poor eating habits,” notes Dr. Lazarus.
The doctor will help you evaluate the stressors in your life that may be contributing to hair loss, as well as run tests to diagnose thyroid problems or vitamin deficiencies. “Treatment depends on the cause,” says Dr. Lazarus, “but most of these issues have solutions that will help you get your healthy head of hair back.”