When it comes to going to the doctor, a lot of people present themselves as the picture of health to save face and avoid embarrassment. At your yearly checkup, you might lie about certain bad habits, or downplay some of your more shameful problems. But telling the truth at the doctor's office is important, especially for the sake of your health.
I mean, we've all been there — the nurse sits down with her clipboard and starts to go down the checklist. Do you smoke, how often do you have sex, when was your last period? Under those glaring fluorescent lights, it can feel like some sort of interrogation. And as your cheeks start to burn with embarrassment and shame, you begin to lie about everything. Cigarettes? No, of course not. Sex? Never heard of it.
But lying about these types of things can actually do you a huge disservice. The doctor is there to help, and he or she needs to see the real picture in order to give an accurate diagnosis, as well as a beneficial treatment. So nothing good will come from hiding information, or fabricating the truth. Say what's up, ask all of your questions, and be as open as you can. And remember, they've definitely heard it all before.
Here are a few things you shouldn't be too embarrassed to discuss with your doctor.
1. Anything Vagina Related
Sex and the various goings on of your vagina can be embarrassing enough to talk about. Add in duck lips and other gynecologist accoutrements, and it can feel downright impossible. But if you've gone so far as to put on the paper gown, you might as well be honest and get the answers you need.
According to K. Aleisha Fetters at Women's Health, just go ahead and be open about your sex life, whether or not you actually use condoms, any weird itchiness or smells you've got going on, or any concerns you have about STDs. Your gyno has seen it all, heard it all, and smelled it all, so just be you and tell it like it is. All of this information is necessary so she can help you have a good and healthy sex life, as well as a good and healthy vagina.
2. Whether Or Not You Smoke
You may be tempted to hide the fact you smoke, especially if it's only a "once in awhile" type of thing. But your doctor really needs to know whether or not you light up, especially since it can affect the decisions he or she makes for you. As Aviva Patz noted on Shape, "If you fess up, your doctor will think twice about prescribing hormone-based contraception (like the pill), because you're more likely to suffer a blood clot or stroke. And if you get a bad cold, she may want to monitor you, because people who light up are more apt to develop pneumonia." It might not be your proudest moment, but admitting will help keep you safe.
3. Poop Stuff, Especially If There's Blood
Not to scare you, but sometimes being honest can save your life. According to an article by Elizabeth Cohen on CNN.com, embarrassment led one woman to hide her symptoms until it was too late. This woman had blood in her stool, but was too ashamed to say anything. She didn't go to the doctor until she was having severe abdominal pain, which ended up being colon cancer. By that point it was too late for surgery, and she passed away. It's incredibly sad, but a good example for others to finally be honest about even your most embarrassing medical complains.
4. Depression, And Other Mental Illness
Mental illness can be feel impossible to talk about, even with your closest family and friends. So I totally understand how difficult it is to bring up in a cold and heartless doctor's office. However, just like your friends and family will show compassion towards you (at least they should), so will your doctor. And even better, they will have some tools to help you start feeling like yourself again.
5. What You Eat, Or How Much You Eat
This one might seem like nobody's business. I mean, food is food, right? But if your doctor asks, you should tell the truth. This is especially the case if you aren't eating "normally," you're dieting, or you've put yourself on some sort of limited food regimen. According to Patz, cleanses or extreme diets can interfere with kidney function and protein levels. They can also cause vitamin deficiencies, dehydration, blood sugar imbalances, and loss of muscle mass. Being honest can help prevent a misdiagnosis, as well as allow the doctor to give you any other nutritional help you may need.
6. Your Smelliest Attributes
In "real" life, we want to keep our more unpleasant attributes under wraps, and this habit can spill over into the doctor's office. However, as I hope you can tell by now, this just won't do. Think of the doctor's office as a chance to let your truest, stinkiest self reign supreme. Tell the doctor about your bad breath, your gas, your sweating issues. They are underlying medical issues for all, so the doctor should know. And, more importantly, they can offer treatments so you can get back to smelly like your old self again.
7. Your Supposedly "Dumb" Question
When it comes to the going to the doctor, there really is no such thing as a dumb question. You can hide behind your computer screen and ask Google all you want, but you're going to be much better off asking a trained professional. Unlike Google, this trained professional knows you and your medical history, and they can tailor their answers and treatments to exactly what you need. (A thing Google can't do... yet.) So if some health-related issue is confusing you or keeping you up at night — no matter how silly or simple it may seem — be sure to ask away. Your doctor will be glad to help.
Going to the doctor is a nerve-racking thing. Throw in embarrassing bodily functions, and you've got yourself quite the strange situation. But don't be afraid to be honest about your health.