5 Things Women Should Tell Their Doctor But Don’t
By SMW Staff
A recent survey in Redbook Magazine revealed a troubling trend among women regarding their relationships with their physicians: 52 percent of women lie to their doctor when asked direct questions about their health. Such a high percentage is troubling; without accurate information, doctors cannot adequately care for their patients. By learning more about what other women lie about and why they do so, women may begin to feel more comfortable disclosing their complete & accurate medical history with their healthcare professionals.
Looking closer at what women don’t tell their doctors, five recurring themes emerge. Below are the health “secrets” women should always share with their physician.
Women need to be honest with their doctors about the complete list of all medications that they are taking. This includes prescription medications, herbal preparations, illicit drugs, and over the counter medications. It is important to give the full scoop to the physician because some medications and treatments can counteract each other or cause serious side effects when taken together. If doctors are unaware of all medications a patient is using, then they could inadvertently prescribe inappropriate medications.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in December 2008 stated that 1 in 25 adults age 57 to 85 put themselves at risk for major drug interactions by mixing prescription drugs with over the counter medications such as aspirin, vitamins, and supplements. According to Webmd.com, one reason why women don’t inform their doctors of all the medications they are taking is that they don’t want to hear that they could be harmful to their bodies. Patients may also not want their prescriptions to be taken away from them, even if the prescription might cause them harm.
The Dirty Deed
Patients don’t just lie about their medications. Another common fib is a womans’complete history of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). Some patients might feel embarrassed about having an STD. Others may feel that they don’t need to tell their doctor about a past STD because they think it is not an issue once the STD is gone.
Similar to under-reported STD’s, patients frequently underestimate the number of sexual partners they have had. By engaging in risky behavior and not practicing safe sex, women can put themselves at risk for STDs or fertility problems.
Something Smells Fishy
While it’s easy to understand why women might lie about past STD’s, it’s more challenging to understand why women might lie to their doctors about current symptoms they are experiencing. This frequently occurs with symptoms patients perceive as “embarrassing”, such as vaginal odor or discharge. Although some women may feel embarrassed about vaginal odor, it is actually a fairly common occurrence. According to ezinearticles.com, vaginal odor affects more than 65 percent of all women at some point during their lives. Perhaps if more women were aware of the frequency of the problem they would feel more comfortable telling their doctor about it. A majority of women who suffer from vaginal odor find that the problem is recurrent.
Not only do many women suffer from this problem, but many women with this problem are unable to find a solution. Though many gynecologists do not recommend douching as a solution, there is now an FDA cleared vaginal cleansing system called WaterWorks Gynecologists recommend using WaterWorks (www.WaterWorksHealth.com) to help eliminate vaginal odor and have noted its safety and effectiveness. Since women are often too embarrassed to discuss vaginal odor and discharge, WaterWorks can be ordered discreetly online; its plain white box doesn’t disclose its contents. Women should always discuss any symptoms of vaginal odor and discharge with their doctors to be certain they don’t have an infection, but if the odor is not from an infection, this is a safe, effective solution.
A Leak in the System
Urinary symptoms, including urinary leakage, are another frequently avoided topic. This is another issue that is more widespread than people know. Over 13 million people in the United States experience incontinence. This issue effects people young and old, male and female, and almost always stems from an underlying medical condition. If a patient doesn’t tell her doctor that she is suffering from this problem, then she will be unable to find the underlying issue that could help the incontinence.
A recent National Association for Continence survey of over 1,400 Americans revealed that 64% of people who suffer from urinary problems don’t take any measures to help control or solve their problem. And on average, adults wait almost six years to seek treatment for their urinary problems. Women need to be up-front with their doctors about these problems, as six out of seven adult incontinence cases occur in women, especially those who have had children. The good news is that there are many treatment options available, depending on the specific diagnosis.
It is not surprising that women lie to their doctors about the number of drinks and/or cigarettes they have per week. Most women don’t want to be judged by their doctors and feel as if they will be lectured about the dangers of smoking. While drinking alcohol in moderation is not generally risky, women should be honest with their doctors about their alcohol consumption as some medications should not be taken with any alcohol. The risks are real. Women who smoke greatly increase their risk for lung cancer, heart disease and stroke. More than 75% of deaths from chronic bronchitis and emphysema are related to smoking. Yet, one in six American women over age 18 continues to smoke.
Smoking has particular risks for mother and child during pregnancy. Smoking can cause low birth weight in one in five infants and can slow fetal growth. Women who smoke during pregnancy are also at increased risk for placenta previa, which can cause unnecessary bleeding and early delivery.
Not being honest with your doctor can lead to many problems and can magnify existing problems. By knowing common lies some women tell their doctors, other women will begin to become more comfortable sharing their complete medical information with their own doctors thus building a better doctor/patient relationship and ensuring better health outcomes.
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