The human body is a wonderful thing. It can also be an embarrassing thing. Regardless of what's troubling you, rest assured that speaking to your doctor about it will give you a sense of relief — both emotionally and physically.
While you may hesitate to bring up a sensitive issue with your doctor, your doctor has likely heard it before. You should also remember that the doctor-patient relationship is based on confidentiality and trust. So relax.
If the thought of mentioning things like incontinence, excessive gas, constipation, bodily discharges, sexual dysfunction or memory loss makes you cringe, use these easy steps to make even the most embarrassing conversation with your doctor an easy one:
- Fess up about being embarrassed. Start your conversation with, "I'm embarrassed about something and find it hard to talk about it." Your doctor is trained in helping you talk about things that may make you uncomfortable. Before you know it, your doctor will have a good understanding of your problem.
- Use your everyday language. Doctors don't expect you to know the medical or "polite" word for what you're experiencing. Actually, using medical jargon you don't understand could only confuse your doctor. If you feel that you can best describe your symptom using slang, then do so.
- Practice out loud. Either on your own or with a friend, practice what you're going to say to your doctor. The more you say something out loud, the easier it becomes.
- Use paper if needed. Some patients find it easier to track their symptoms and simply provide their doctor with a written account. If, for example, you're embarrassed about bladder control, write down instances when it happens (laughing too hard, when you sneeze). Putting it down on paper means you won't have to actually speak about it more than you have to.
- Get help from a trusted association. To get the conversation started, show your doctor a brochure or printed web information about what's troubling you. Most health organizations also provide information on how to speak to your doctor about that specific health problem. Search Find Support to find organizations that can give you information.
- Bring support. Having your spouse or partner with you may help you open up. They can also fill in any information gaps.
- You're never too old to be healthy. Sometimes it’s easier to accept certain conditions because we think it is part of the aging process (and that way, we don’t need to bring up the subject.)” Fact is, you should seek your doctor’s advice to decide what’s “normal” for you. And wouldn’t it be better to do something about it rather than compromise the quality of your life?