Talking to a Doctor About Embarrassing Health Issues

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Have you ever been so mortified by a medical concern that you felt too uncomfortable to discuss it with your healthcare provider? You’re not alone, it’s an all-too-common occurrence, but when it comes to doctor visits, you can prioritize your health by being an open book.

How do I see a doctor about something embarrassing?

An itchy backside, urinary incontinence or hemorrhoids, excessive or painful gas, sexual health or behavioral health issues — these are just some of the conditions that you may find hard to discuss with anyone, including your doctor.

Feeling anxious and vulnerable is a normal reaction to having a medical concern, especially one of a sensitive nature. The first step towards easing your mind is to get an accurate medical diagnosis by scheduling time with your doctor. Good communication is essential to finding treatment. To prepare for this, jot down what you want to say to make sure to cover all of your concerns and then read it out loud a few times. This exercise will help you be less anxious when you’re scheduling your appointment, whether through a call to your provider’s office or via secure messaging through your MyChart account.

How do you ask a doctor awkward questions?

Don’t let a challenging topic or embarrassing issue keep you from talking to your provider — your health is at stake. Try adopting these strategies:

  • Practice mindful meditation during your wait. Before your visit, take five to 10 minutes to sit quietly and focus on nothing but breathing in and out or silently repeating a positive mantra, such as “I can do this.”
  • Ease into the conversation by first telling your provider that the topic is difficult for you to discuss.
  • Expand on your symptoms list by noting additional details, such as when the problem started and if anything unusual was going on in your life at the time. Include a list of any new medications and supplements you started taking and the ones you routinely take, including dosages.
  • Write down any questions or make a checklist to reference during your doctor’s appointment to help you remember everything. If you cannot bring yourself to verbalize your concerns, give the list to your doctor to read. That way, your provider can guide the conversation by prompting you with questions.

How do I talk to my doctor about sensitive issues?

While you may experience discomfort discussing your personal information or symptoms, a trusted healthcare provider will not be phased by these details. In fact, chances are your doctor has encountered other patients with similar medical issues. It may also be comforting to know that doctor-patient confidentiality means the details of your visit will be kept private. Your provider will only discuss your case with other health professionals if necessary, as part of your comprehensive care plan. The important thing is to talk to your doctor — even if it makes you blush bright crimson for a moment. Your providers want to know what’s going on. Breathe. You can get through it. Just know that an accurate description of your symptoms coupled with a medical exam will lead you towards a diagnosis, treatment options and ultimately a path to feeling better sooner.

Ready to take the next steps?

Visit the St. Elizabeth Healthcare provider directory to find a primary care provider or specialist who can put you at ease. Are you ready to ask those embarrassing health questions? We offer several convenient options: schedule a virtual or an in-office appointment with a St. Elizabeth provider, call our Nurse Now helpline to talk to a registered nurse, or try using our online Symptom Checker to guide you to the right level of care.