Yeast infections, STDs, and ingrown hairs: Our lady parts are no strangers to unwanted, uncomfortable issues. And they’re not immune to vaginal injuries, either — we’re talking bumps, bruises, scrapes, and tears. Here, five ways you can hurt your hoo-ha (and what to do if you find yourself in a precarious situation):
1. You Can Bruise Your Vagina
When Jules Wainstein of Real Housewives of New York climbed through a window and wound up with a vaginal hematoma, we thought, a vaginal what? It turns out a hematoma is just a bruise, says Fahimeh Sasan, doctor of osteopathic medicine, an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynaecology, and reproductive science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. You might notice a bump, swelling, and black and blue — the result of blood collecting under the skin, she explains. But unless you’re straddling a windowsill a la Jules, such an injury is rare, since your lady parts are pretty well protected. “You’d really have to be doing something special to have this happen in everyday life,” says Sasan. A few real-life instances where it’s more common: intense mountain biking or childbirth, says Sasan. For the most part, though, the bruise will heal with a little bit of ice and time, she says.
2. You Can Fracture Your Pelvis
Breaking the bones in your pelvic area (right up next to your reproductive system) is pretty rare; they account for just about 3 percent of all fractures, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. But, hey, stuff happens. In fact, the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma estimates that about 8 to 9 percent of blunt trauma incidents—falls and car or bicycle accidents — result in injuries to the pelvis. The good news? Most pelvis fractures are minor — and while they hurt like heck, they usually don’t require surgery. Regardless, if you’ve been in an accident or are worried about a break, get an X-ray to find out.
3. You Can Cut Yourself
Most vaginal injuries are related to hair removal, says Sasan. And anyone who’s ever shaved or suffered through a bikini wax knows both can result in unintentional cuts. Ow. The main problem with nicks: They up your risk for issues like ingrown hairs, which can become inflamed and painful, says Sasan. Going bare below the belt could increase your chances of infection, too. One French study found a link between ladies who removed their down-there hair through waxing and shaving and Molluscum contagiosum, an infection that causes irritated bumps. Sound familiar? Give your skin a break by cutting back on your routine. And to rule out issues like genital herpes or warts, check in with your doc any time you notice a lesion or bump, says Sasan.
4. You Can Get Burned
A bad Brazilian is any girl’s worst nightmare — and for good reason. Too-hot wax can lead to serious irritation and even burns. A good technician will know the ideal temp for your wax (and use a thermometer to gauge it), but if it feels too hot, it likely is. Most reputable places keep wax to a steady warm temp, but if you get scalded, ask for a cold compress, which can relieve the redness and pain while you wait for the wax to cool. Waxing yourself? Make sure to test the temperature on your wrist first before applying anything to your bikini area.
5. You Can Tear Your Labia
If you’re too dry down there or had very rough sex, you could have a labia tear on your hands, says Sasan. How you can tell: If you bleed, feel uncomfortable peeing, and/or you’re in pain down there after you get your freak on, that could signal a tear. While this is rare—often, your natural lubrication (and lube!) is enough to keep things flowing down there without a tear — it happens. Also, tears tend to be a little more common if you’re using a sex toy or if it’s your first time doing the deed, says Sasan. If you think you may have a tear, see your doc. Often the treatment plan is just to let the area heal on its own, but sometimes you may need to be stitched up, says Sasan.
This feature was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com