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DocSpot: What's normal?

We receive lots of queries from people who have noticed something, and are not sure whether it is normal or not. Here are four of the commonest ‘is it normal?’ questions.

Dear Dr Margaret
I really need help. My penis is abnormally small. What exercises can I do to enlarge it?
You are not alone with this worry. In fact, this is one of the commonest questions we receive. I don’t know of any exercises, creams or pills that will increase penis size. Be very cautious about internet sites that claim otherwise. Anyway, your penis may in fact be quite normal. Look at our section on penis size.
Dear Dr Margaret
I’m really worried. I put my finger into my vagina and could feel something in the middle. It was kinda big and symmetrical and I could feel round it too. Could it be my cervix? I’m scared I’ve got cancer but I’m also scared to see my doctor in case he thinks I’m being stupid.

The thing you describe sounds exactly like a cervix. It is perfectly normal to be able to feel your own cervix by putting a finger in the vagina and reaching right up – especially if you ’push down’ slightly at the same time, as if you were trying to open your bowels. The normal cervix is smooth and fairly firm, rather like the end of your nose. Women who use a contraceptive cap or diaphragm are taught to feel their own cervix, to check that the device is covering it properly. So if you want to be sure that what you are feeling is in fact your cervix, you could check with the doctors or nurses at your local family planning clinic. Find out more about the vagina and cervix here.

Dear Dr Margaret
I am in my late forties and in the past few years have noticed that I have a lot of hair on my bottom between my cheeks. As I am now divorced and may at some time have a new lover, I am very worried that he will think I am a freak. Is this normal? Do other women have this, or should I visit my doctor?

This is perfectly normal. There is great variation in the amount of pubic hair that normal women have. Some women have very little. Most women have pubic hair at the front, extending backwards around the lips of the vulva to between the cheeks of the buttocks. Other women have a lot more, extending down the inside of the upper part of the thighs as well. Some beauty salons will remove hair from these areas by waxing (phone first to enquire), which is an option if you feel really uncomfortable about the amount of hair that you have. But, as Dr Phil says in his no-nonsense video guide on body hair, "Some women seem to think they have to shave everything off, but actually a lot of men find it attractive".

Dear Dr Margaret
What would cause someone to have blood in their semen when they ejaculate? Is this normal?
You probably noticed blood in the semen after masturbation, or you saw it on your penis or in a condom after penetrative sex. This is not normal, but it is unlikely to be serious. In most cases, this is one of those odd things for which no cause is found, and it is not usually a sign of a health problem. However, I think you should discuss it with your doctor, because a few simple checks are in order. Your doctor will ask about other symptoms, such as discharge from the urethra (the ‘pee’ hole at the end of the penis). A urine sample needs to be checked for blood. Very high blood pressure can cause blood in the semen, though this is rare, but you can ask your doctor to take your blood pressure. Your doctor may decide to examine your back passage to see if your prostate is enlarged, especially if you are middle-aged or older. If there is a lot of blood, or it keeps happening, your doctor might refer you to a urologist (hospital specialist) for more tests, but this is not usually necessary. For more information see our section on blood in the semen.


Last updated; Monday, December 3rd 2012 at 4:13 am

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