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7 Tips to Get the Most from a Doctor’s Visit

6. Common topics people avoid, but shouldn’t.

It’s normal. Everyone has something that causes embarrassment or makes him or her feel awkward. Your doctor probably won’t think it’s embarrassing, though. Even if a topic seems really personal or uncomfortable, try to talk about. Once you do, it’s usually the beginning of getting better. Here are some common topics people avoid but shouldn’t.

  • Urinary incontinence. Studies have shown that 1 out of 3 women have difficulty with urinary incontinence (loss of urine), but it takes 3-5 years for most women to work up the courage to talk about it with their doctor. If this is a problem you are having, you are not alone. To make the most of your annual exam, you can keep a chart of how much fluid you are drinking in a day, how many times you urinate in a 24 hour period, and how any times you leak urine during a 24 hour period.  If you keep a log of this for a week, your doctor will be in a good position to advise you how to best deal with this common issue.
  • Domestic Violence is another topic that people often feel is off limits.  Studies show that nearly 1 in 3 adult women experience assault by a partner sometime in adulthood. If you are suffering from domestic violence, and that includes verbal abuse, talk to your doctor. Get help.
  • Erectile dysfunction can be awkward and difficult for men to discuss. This is important information to share because in addition to the impact on one’s sex life, erectile dysfunction may be a sign of arterial disease or other medical conditions. It may also be a sign of Andropause or Male Menopause. While we’re talking about Viagra, new research suggests the increased use of erectile dysfunction medications has caused an alarming rise of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among the over 50 group. Evidently, because pregnancy is no longer a worry, people are not practicing safe sex. If you are sexually active and over 50, it’s time for this discussion with your doctor as well.

7. Ask about your sleep. Not enough may be killing you.

If poor sleep is a problem for you, tell your doctor. Poor sleep is a major issue for 70 million American adults. It contributes to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and many more medical conditions. Most adults need about 7-8-hours of sleep a night to function optimally and to stay well.  There are many reasons people have difficulties sleeping, from anxiety, depression, and stress to medications, medical problems, urinary problems, uncomfortable sleeping conditions, too much caffeine, alcohol, and restless leg…the list goes on and on.

To help you figure out what’s contributing to your sleep disturbance, keep a sleep log and bring it to your exam. Get a free downloadable sleep diary at Write down the time you go to bed, how long it takes to fall asleep, how many times you wake up during the night, what time you wake up in the morning. Also note if you take any naps during the day. If you do this for a couple of weeks before your exam, your doctor will offer some information to help you. Your may be asked if your partner says you that you snore loudly every night – it could be a sign of sleep apnea.


Your annual exam is a special time. You have your healthcare provider’s undivided attention. Get the most out of your visit; be prepared. Realize that to live a long and healthy life, you’ve got to get involved in the process of staying well. Bring your questions, your lists, and your most pressing issues. Use this as an opportunity to make the changes you need to accomplish to optimize your health.

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Read more: Aging, Eating for Health, Family, General Health, Health, Healthy Aging, Menopause, Stay Well With Dr. Seibel,

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Dr. Mache Seibel

Women's health expert and guest speaker Dr. Mache Seibel addresses consumers' critical needs from weight control to HRTmenopause and beyond. He served on the Harvard Medical School faculty for 19 years and is founder of My Menopause Magazine on the Apple Newsstand ( Download the Free App and first Free issue. He works with companies and organizations to bring exciting educational content to consumers. Visit his award-winning website to sign up for his free monthly newsletter.


+ add your own
6:29PM PST on Mar 7, 2012

I always talk a list of all my medications and any changes in them with me. I also write down any questions I want to ask him.

What is ironic is that I went for my physical 3 weeks ago and I was just fine. The very next day, I had a sore throat and a nasty sinus infection. I have always heard that a doctors office is full of germs. I guess I found some that day on the magazine I was reading. Next time, I will take my own book.

10:20AM PST on Mar 1, 2012


10:53PM PST on Feb 29, 2012

In the old days, when I used to go to doctors, I took along a list.

The doctors appreciated it.

8:02AM PST on Feb 28, 2012

Good tips. Thanks.

10:35PM PST on Feb 27, 2012

Good tips. Thanks.

11:42AM PST on Feb 27, 2012


1:36PM PST on Feb 26, 2012

Very useful information, it always helps to write things down!

1:35PM PST on Feb 26, 2012

Interesting and useful information.

8:27PM PST on Feb 25, 2012

It can also be helpful to generally write down when you have some health problem crop up. Some problems are intermittent, and you may not think of them when it is close to your appointment, but they can be important to mention. So, making a general habit of noting down problems when you notice them can make it take less time for you to get them addressed by a doctor. This is particularly helpful when you aren't young and healthy and less prone to significant symptoms (although even a young person can develop a serious medical issue).

5:48PM PST on Feb 25, 2012

Ask lots of questions.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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