Woman covering her mouth with her hands

Sometimes our bodies malfunction in embarrassing ways. Many of us don’t like to talk about such health problems. Some of us will even avoid seeing a doctor because we’re so embarrassed. But often there’s no reason to be ashamed - such health problems can be surprisingly common and only by talking about them with the right people can you find the right treatment. 

Below are a few examples of embarrassing health problems that are more common than you think (and how to treat them). 

Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Most of us experience stinky breath at some point in our lives. However, about 25% of us experience it regularly. Obvious causes of bad breath include eating certain foods, drinking alcohol, smoking or not brushing teeth regularly. However, there are many other possible causes.

Bad breath is often caused by bacteria in the mouth, which may be present due to other health problems. Some people are more prone to tooth decay or a dry mouth for example, which can lead to bad breath.

Unusual oral smells may be due to other health problems. If your breath smells unusually sweet, it could be a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis. Breath that smells like ammonia (i.e. urine) could be due to a kidney problem. It is worth going to a doctor to diagnose any unusual smells. 

Adult Acne

Acne is commonly associated with teenagers. While it is more common during adolescence, as much as 11.5% of adults experience acne. 

Poor hygiene can be a cause of acne, but in most cases adult acne is caused by hormonal changes (which can happen to women throughout their life) or stress (which can happen to us all). If you have naturally oily skin, you may even find that various skin products ranging from sunscreen to make-up cause acne. Diet may also be a factor (a high sugar diet has been linked to a higher risk of acne).

It’s worth seeing a dermatologist if you experience acne as an adult and cannot shift it using regular over-the-counter products. There are many prescription medicines and procedures that could help get rid of your acne problem.


Haemorrhoids (also known as ‘piles’) are uncomfortable lumps that can form around the anus. Most of us don’t ever mention them, but they are very common. Many women develop them during pregnancy or childbirth. And it’s believed that as much as 50% of us have haemorrhoids by age 50.

Haemorrhoids are in fact popped blood vessels and they are often caused by straining (particularly constipation), however they can be caused by sitting somewhere for too long. In most cases, haemorrhoids will clear up on their own after a few days. However, some need extra treatment.

Generally speaking, you should see a doctor if they do not clear up or get worse after a week. If you experience pain and bleeding it is also worth seeing a doctor. Medications or procedures can then be recommended if needed. 

Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis)

Everybody sweats - but some people sweat more than others. If you regularly sweat so much that it soaks through your clothes and you’re dripping, it could be a sign that you suffer from hyperhidrosis. This may affect as much as 3% of the population.

Hyperhidrosis can have many possible causes including obesity, menopause or conditions such as hyperthyroidism. It may even be a genetic problem that develops during puberty. Certain medications may also cause certain people to sweat profusely.

There are many different possible treatments for hyperhidrosis which a doctor may be able to explore with you. This could include taking tablets or even having botox injections in sweat glands. Lifestyle changes such as wearing sweat shields and using stronger antiperspirants could help you to manage this condition too. 

Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction affects all age groups, but is particularly common in men over 40. In fact, studies suggest that as much as 50% of men over the age of 40 experience some form of ED.

Common causes of erectile dysfunction include stress, alcohol consumption and fatigue. However, various health problems can also be a root cause such as diabetes, high blood pressure or prostate issues. Although many men are afraid to see a doctor about this health problem, it can be worthwhile if it has become a regular problem.

Viagra and sildenafil are two common forms of medication that can treat ED. Both require a prescription, which is why a consultation with a doctor is important. You may be able to visit website stores that sell kamagra and other over-the-counter alternatives. Some men find these options to be effective, however prescription medication could be necessary for others. 

Premature Ejaculation

Another common sexual health problem in men is premature ejaculation. In fact, 20% to 30% of men are believed to experience this. However, as little as 1% ever see a doctor.

While premature ejaculation is often a psychological problem, there is evidence to suggest that it can also be caused by physical health problems. Abnormal hormone levels in some men can cause them to become overstimulated too easily. A lot of men with ED also experience premature ejaculation as they try to rush sex while they still have an erection. 

Not everyone needs to see a doctor about PE. However, in all cases, it is important to talk to your partner and try different methods to help you last longer during sex (such as using condoms that decrease sensitivity).

Female Pattern Hair Loss

Hair loss is a health problem that is often associated with men. However, many women experience pattern hair loss as they get older. Some studies suggest that as much as 50% of women over the age of 70 experience pattern hair loss. Meanwhile, the likes of pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum depression or menopause may also bring on hair loss in some women. 

Female pattern hair loss can be a symptom of ageing. However, it can also be caused by stress or hormone levels or negative reactions to medication (including contraceptive medication in some cases).

Should you see a doctor about female pattern hair loss? If it is affecting your mental health or does not have an obvious cause then it could be worthwhile. There are over-the-counter medications like minoxidil that you can try. However, some women may need hormone therapy or other treatments. Procedures such as hair transplants can combat balding. Alternatively, some women shave their hair and wear a wig.


Incontinence is a loss of bladder or bowel control. Loss of bladder control is a very common form of incontinence - particularly in women who have been through childbirth. In fact, as much as 50% of adult women experience it. Some older men and women can meanwhile become double incontinent due to various underlying health problems such as MS, Parkinson’s, prostate cancer and dementia. 

There are so many potential causes of incontinence and it is important to address these causes. Some examples of common causes include drinking alcohol, stress, nerve damage, infections, low levels of oestrogen or weak pelvic floor muscles.

Women who have been through childbirth are often urged to practise pelvic floor exercises to prevent incontinence. Reducing alcohol consumption can meanwhile be a simple solution if you become incontinent while under the influence. If there are other possible causes, it could be worth seeing a doctor for treatment options. 


As much as 1 in 25 people have an STI. The severity of these STIs can vary - with some being fatal if not diagnosed and treated/managed. Common examples of STIs include chlamydia, gonorrhoea, genital warts, herpes, trichomoniasis, syphilis and HIV. Symptoms may include itchiness, unusual discharge or unusual lumps/blisters.

STIs are most commonly passed through unprotected sex, but can be passed through other means such as sharing needles or even kissing someone with an STI.  

If you suspect you have an STI, you should refrain from sexual activity without a condom until you have been tested and treated. There are sexual health clinics where you can take tests and get a diagnosis. Many STIs can be treated nowadays with prescribed medication, while others are untreatable (such as HIV). A health professional can help you explore your options.

Smelly feet (Bromodosis) 

Another embarrassing health problem that is surprisingly common is smelly feet. This affects roughly 15% of people.

Foot odour can be a side effect of another health problem already discussed here - hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating). A sweaty sock can provide the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, which is what causes the smell. However, other health problems could also be a cause such as athlete's foot or an untreated ulcers (a potential side effect of diabetes).

Smelly feet can be treated by using antiperspirant or absorbing powder on your feet. Reconsidering your footwear in summer can also help to prevent smelly feet - wearing sandals instead of socks and shoes could prevent excess sweat. Finally, you can try options like listerine foot baths. If one of these measures are enough, consider seeing a doctor. The likes of athlete’s foot will need specialist medication to treat. 

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