Things You Don’t Tell Your Doctor (But Should)
How many times have you filled out the form at the doctorís office and lied? Everyone raise their hands (Bueller? Bueller?). Yeah, me too. And Iím a doctor.† Why do we do this? Hey, there are some very personal questions on these forms!† And you want your doctor to like you and not judge you.† You may be engaging in behaviors you know are risky to your health but donít want to face. You may have secrets youíve never told anybody before and donít feel like sharing now.† You may be too embarrassed to mention something.† You may be afraid your partner or your boss or your mother or your insurance company will find out something about you youíd rather they not know.† I hear you.
Does it really matter? Do you really need to tell your doctor the truth?† ĎFraid so. WebMD just interviewed me about this very topic, so I thought Iíd share the notes I made for my interview with them.† Here are some common things people donít tell their doctors and some thoughts on why itís important that we know.
- Youíre cheating on your partner. If youíre having an illicit affair, youíre probably going to great lengths to keep your secret, so why would you spill the beans to your doctor? Because you may be putting yourself and your partners at risk. Trust me. Itís much better to tell your doctor and nip a sexually-transmitted disease in the bud than to have your partner discover your affair when she winds up with chlamydia. If we know, we can get you tested and help protect you and your partners.
- Youíve had an abortion. Maybe your husband doesnít even know about that pregnancy you terminated back when you were in college. And you certainly donít want him finding out now. So does it really matter? Well, it depends. If youíre trying to get pregnant, yes. It gives your doctor very important information. We know the pipes worked once upon a time and actually improves the likelihood that youíll get pregnant when compared to someone who has never conceived before. But if youíre having trouble getting pregnant, itís possible that thereís scar tissue from the abortion.
- You drink too much, use illegal drugs, or are hooked on prescription meds. Your indulgences may be putting your body at more risk than you know. Even small amounts of alcohol increase your risk of breast cancer, while greater intake can put your liver, stomach, brain and many other organs at risk. And you donít have to be hooked on cocaine for it to cause a heart attack.† The more we know, the more we can educate you about how to live most vitally and keep your body healthy.
- You have sexual preferences you may wish to keep secret. Whether youíre a big fan of anal intercourse, a swinger, homosexual or bisexual, or love getting it on in a bunny suit, I promise I wonít judge you. But it will help me take better care of you. If I think youíre straight, I may be pushing you to take birth control you donít need. And if you love anal sex, you might be having bowel problems I can help with. But I canít help if I donít know.
- Youíre having problems in the bedroom. Maybe your libido has gone to hell, sex hurts, or youíre experiencing some other form of sexual dysfunction. Maybe you or your partner canít get it up. We think weíre supposed to be all-powerful, all the time, so many people wonít admit when theyíre having sexual difficulties. But owning your sexuality is part of Owning Pink and keeping your mojo alive and kicking.† Oftentimes, we doctors can help.
- Youíre pregnant and youíre not sure whose baby it is. Maybe youíre in a relationship but you fooled around the month you got pregnant.† You may be tempted not to tell your doctor so your partner doesnít find out.† But this could lead to serious repercussions for your pregnancies. Letís say your husbandís blood type is Rh-, as is yours. Which means that if your husband is the father, you wouldnít need the medication Rhogam, which is meant to keep you from making antibodies to your babyís potentially + blood type. But if your boyfriend is Rh+, youíll be needing that Rhogam. We docs need to know this stuff, or you might be unable to give birth to a living child in the future.
- Youíre leaking urine. You may think that urinary incontinence is just a natural part of aging, but itís not. And we can help. But only if you tell us whatís up down there.
- Youíre not taking your medication. Perhaps your doctor has recommended something that doesnít resonate with you. Youíre sure you can get your blood pressure down without pills or youíd rather skip that antidepressant. If we think youíre taking your medication when youíre not, it may throw us down this rabbit hole of diagnosis and treatment thatís completely off base. Tell us the truth. If the treatment weíve prescribed isnít right for you, let us help you find something that is.
So next time youíre filling out that form, think twice about fudging. If you donít feel comfortable putting something in writing, ask your doctor if you can tell her something in confidence when you see her in person.
Itís all part of owning your health. Face it. Deal with it. Accept that itís true or accept that you wish to change something. Ask for help if you need it. But donít lie to your doctor. Weíre here to help. I swear!