No topic is taboo when talking to your doctor
It may not be easy to talk to your doctor about a health concern that seems sensitive or even embarrassing—say a sexual problem, a bowel issue or your alcohol use. But it’s crucial that you have the conversation.
That’s because your doctor can’t treat a problem he or she doesn’t know exists. And it’s why no topic—no matter how private—should be off limits.
It might help to know that doctors genuinely care about their patients’ well-being. “If something is bothering you, we sincerely want to help,” says Donna Raziano, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Mercy Home Health.
And while it’s your role to share information, it’s your doctor’s role to be nonjudgmental. Plus, doctors see many patients with many different problems.
“So while you may feel that your symptom or concern is unique, your doctor has heard it before—and chances are, often,” Dr. Raziano says.
Be aware too that the sooner you bring up a concern, often the easier it is to treat. “Why let months go by when you could be getting help right now?” Dr. Raziano asks.
Opening up about a sensitive subject may be easier if you see your doctor for regular checkups—and not just when you’re sick. That way you may feel more relaxed discussing private things.
But if you’re still hesitant, bringing up your concern may be as simple as saying, “Doctor, there’s something that’s bothering me.”
Once those words are out, you may find the rest of the conversation flows naturally. You’ve opened a door, and that’s frequently the hardest step.