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Why should I discuss embarrassing health problems with my doctor?

Not discussing embarrassing health problems with your doctor will prevent help in obtaining treatment if there are treatments available. Health problems that cause embarrassment can be difficult for anyone to bring up.  Some health problems can be embarrassing but may be a sign of something far more serious that needs close investigation. It is challenging for a doctor to treat a patient appropriately without knowing the patient's full history. It is really important to give your doctor as much information as possible to treat you in the best manner possible.
Jennifer Landa, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)

You should discuss all embarrassing health questions with your doctor; they are there to help not judge, and have heard it all before! Watch sexual health expert Jen Landa, MD, explain why it's important to be specific to get an accurate diagnosis.

Audrey K. Chun, MD
Geriatric Medicine
At some point almost all of us will develop a personal health problem that is awkward to discuss. We all realize that our doctor is more likely to be able to help us manage our health and well-being effectively if he or she is kept up to date with what ails us -- and if we are suffering from headaches or back pain, or we've been experiencing chest pain, sharing that information with the doctor typically isn't a problem. However, if our health issues involve bathroom habits, stomach disorders or problems in the bedroom, discussing them can be difficult. That is unfortunate, because treating health issues like incontinence may be relatively straightforward.

Keep in mind also that other embarrassing problems -- for example, bowel issues -- can potentially signal serious health conditions that need prompt treatment. Ignoring the fact that there is blood in your stools because you feel awkward about telling your doctor could result in you literally dying of embarrassment. This doesn't have to be the case, because there is nothing you can tell your doctor that will shock him or her. We really have heard it all before when it comes to "delicate" issues.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.