The Most Embarrassing Health Questions People Google

Some secrets are only safe for your search engine. 

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Sometimes, Google’s the only place you’re comfortable taking awkward health questions. While you don’t need to be shy—trust us, your doctor’s probably heard it already—it can be a huge relief to find answers on your own.

But instead of making you sift through countless suspicious posts across the web, we rounded up some of Google’s top blush-worthy searches. Here are science-backed answers to the questions you’re too nervous to ask out loud.

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Why is my poop green?

Green poop usually isn’t cause for concern. It can result from eating something green like leafy vegetables or foods colored with green dye. Certain drugs can turn poop green too, for example:

Another possibility? Your food may be moving through your intestines before it can be fully digested. In that case, the green color may come from bile (a liquid that helps your body digest fats) that hasn’t had time to break down yet. 

Green stool is especially common in infants, but not children. Call your child’s pediatrician if they have green stool that doesn’t go away after a few days. 

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What is smegma?

Smegma is a cheesy, white discharge that sometimes builds up around the genital area in both men and women. It may be found:

  • Around the tip of the penis
  • Under the foreskin in uncircumcised men
  • In a woman’s vaginal folds

Smegma is perfectly normal. It consists of oil from the glands around the genital area, sweat and dead skin cells. Even though it’s normal, you should clean smegma with warm water and mild soap if you notice it. If left over time, it may cause itching, irritation or turn into a hard crust that can be painful to remove.  

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How long does marijuana stay in your system?

The active chemical in marijuana, which police officers and employers check for during drug screenings, is called THC.

The immediate physical effects of THC tend to wear off within one to three hours after smoking marijuana. Effects will last several hours longer if you’ve had an edible. How long it’s detectable in your system depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The method you used to take the marijuana 
  • Its strength and strain
  • Your body fat percentage: THC is stored in fat cells; the more fat a person has, the longer they may test positive. 
  • Whether you drink enough water: Drinking more water won’t flush THC out of your system, but being dehydrated can make you test positive longer than you would otherwise.
  • Personal factors: Your age, gender, height and how frequently you use marijuana may all play a role.

With a urine screening, it’s possible to test positive for up to 100 days, depending on the factors listed above. But most people should test negative within 30 days (although a heavy user may take closer to two months). A frequent user may test negative as soon as 10 days, a first time user within four to seven days. 

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How do you treat hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are swollen or bulging veins that develop around the anus or inside the rectum. They’re usually harmless, but can cause itching, pain or bleeding, especially during bowel movements.

Treatment options include:

  • Witch hazel: This astringent may be found over the counter in liquid form or in portable wipes like Tucks. Apply directly to hemorrhoids.
  • Hydrocortisone: This topical steroid comes in both cream—for external use—and suppository form—for rectal hemorrhoids.
  • Fiber: Bearing down, or pushing to have a bowel movement can aggravate hemorrhoids. Ease constipation by drinking plenty of water and getting at least 20 to 35 grams of fiber daily. Talk to your doctor before starting a fiber supplement.
  • Laxatives: If fiber doesn’t help, a laxative might do the trick. Talk to your doctor before taking laxatives if you have a history of gastric bleeding, you’re on other medications, you could have a bowel blockage or you’re pregnant.

Minimally-invasive procedures and surgeries are also available if these treatments aren’t effective.

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What’s the quickest way to heal a cold sore?

Cold sores are blisters caused by the herpes simplex 1 virus, which develop on or near the mouth. Without treatment, most heal within seven to ten days. (Cold sores are not the same as canker sores, which aren’t contagious and typically heal on their own after about two weeks.)

If you’ve never had a cold sore before, or your breakout is especially severe, you may need a prescription antiviral medication. The sooner you take an antiviral medication, the better it should work, and it may help your sore heal faster.

If you experience severe pain, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever like acetaminophen. Also try:

  • Skipping salty foods
  • Avoiding acidic foods like pasta sauce or orange juice
  • Sucking on something cold like an ice cube or ice pop

There are many over-the-counter creams that claim to offer symptom relief. But the only one currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is docosanol 10% cream (Abreva). If used five times a day, it can help shorten healing time.

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How do you get rid of a double chin?

Weight loss can reduce a double chin, although losing weight overall may not target your chin area specifically.

Some people report chin exercises have helped them. There isn’t scientific evidence to support this and exercises don’t typically reduce fat in specific spots. Also, they won’t eliminate excess skin. However, if you try chin exercises, they can help strengthen chin muscles, which may tone the area. Here are some exercises people have found helpful:

  • Chin lifts: Stand up straight. Extend your chin straight up towards the ceiling, puckering your lips to “kiss the sky.” Hold the position for 10 seconds; repeat 10 times.
  • Head rolls: Stand up straight. Tuck your chin down against your chest. Keep it tucked, while slowly turning your chin to the side so it’s pointing to your shoulder. Gradually roll it back in the other direction until it’s pointing at your other shoulder. It should look like a “U” motion. Repeat 10 times.
  • Tennis ball squeezes: Hold a tennis ball between your chin and chest. Press it tightly, then release. Repeat ten times.

There are also procedures and surgeries that can remove a double chin. These include neck contouring, liposuction and lifts. In 2015, the FDA approved an injection called deoxycholic acid (Kybella), which can reduce chin fat stores, as well. If you pursue plastic surgery, always work with a board certified plastic surgeon. Kybella may be administered by a plastic surgeon or a dermatologist. 

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