Just the thought of talking to your doctor about sensitive subjects is enough to make some people skip their annual physicals or only go to their doctor when absolutely necessary. Anyone of us likely has certain topics considered “embarrassing or uncomfortable” to discuss with our doctors. For example, commonly under-discussed health concerns include sexual dysfunction, screening for sexually transmitted infections, urinary incontinence, hair loss, body odors, and bad breath.
While you may dread a frank talk with your doctor about difficult-to-talk about health issues, think of the consequences of not bringing up a health concern. You may have to live with the consequences of an untreated illness or face health complications that get worse. Yet, ask any doctor and they will tell you, they’ve, “heard it all.”
Doctors want the best for each and every patient. It’s important for patients to understand we view medical exam rooms as sacred ground where patients can talk about anything. Once the talk is initiated, it usually goes quickly and relatively painless, and you are rewarded with the proper treatment helping resolve symptoms. View it as a win-win for both you and your doctor.
Strategies for breaking the ice on sensitive topics with your doctor
To get the most out of every doctor’s visit and the help you need for health concerns, here are valuable strategies to help break the ice with your doctor:
- Begin the conversation by saying you want to talk about a sensitive issue. Using phrases such as, “I’ve never shared this with anyone before,” or “I’ve never discussed this with my spouse,” or “I’m nervous to talk to you about this,” can serve as a cue to your doctor to focus on helping you feel more comfortable.
- Be direct and specific about your symptoms or concerns. Avoid being vague or talking on and on without getting to the point. For example, if sex has become painful for you, tell your doctor exactly where you feel the pain. If your bowel movements look different than usual, describe in what way. Approaching the situation with openness, honesty and vulnerability will get you the best results.
- Be prepared before you go to the appointment. Write down your questions to ask covering all of your concerns. This can help you feel more confident and less nervous.
- View your doctor as a partner in your healthcare. When you build a strong alliance between yourself and your doctor, you’re both more likely to approach any treatment of any health condition as a team.
- If you feel uncomfortable talking face to face with a doctor or healthcare professional, call a telephone helpline associated with your healthcare provider to talk to a nurse first.
- If it helps, ask someone to come with your for support or to speak on your behalf.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncolo gy and prostate cancer 911.