Spotting. Itching. Tenderness. When below-the-belt symptoms crop up, your first impulse is probably to slip into a pair of pajamas and curl up on the couch. Holing away for a night or two is fine, but what if your symptoms last for weeks or even months?

"When it comes to gynecological issues, many women adopt a grin-and- bear-it mentality," says Fred M. Howard, M.D., chief gynecologist at the Rochester Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain Center in Rochester, New York. Often they're simply too embarrassed to tell anyone—even their doctors—about their problems. "But left untreated, some can lead to more serious illnesses," he says. Even when you do fess up, receiving the proper care can be tricky: Many of the symptoms are often vague and can be easily confused with other conditions. In fact, research reveals that it can take years for physicians to arrive at an accurate diagnosis.

But the sooner you take charge of your health, the sooner you'll feel better. That's why we've asked experts to decipher some down-there symptoms and treatments-so you can get off that couch already!

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