No Awkward Questions

June 3, 2021

Let’s face it: life as a human is messy.

From bodily functions to complicated thought patterns, our health and bodies can be awkward, funny and vulnerable. And even though we all experience this messy humanness, social stigmas can make us embarrassed to talk about the mental and physical health issues we face, even with our doctors. 

In extreme cases or illnesses, talking to your doctor could mean getting lifesaving treatment. But even in more mild situations, sharing embarrassing symptoms will help you receive care and feel less isolated.

And they’ve probably heard it all before.

"If I put myself in my patients' shoes, it's nerve-wracking," says Dr. Christina Miles, a primary care and family physician in North Seattle.

"But it's important for patients to realize that whatever your concern is, it's likely that an experienced primary care doctor has either encountered it before or knows which specialists could treat you.”

In one survey by Zocdoc, they found that 46 percent of American respondents didn’t tell their doctors about certain health problems due to embarrassment or fear of judgement.

In fact, your doctor probably wants you to ask more questions. Virtually all learning begins with questions, so it follows that being curious about your own health is going to lead to being more proactive about it. 

It also gives your doctor the opportunity to address your assumptions about your symptoms or general health, correct or otherwise. This in itself could put your mind at ease almost immediately – that thing that’s been keeping you awake at night could turn out to be much less serious than you think.

In every case, the sooner you start talking about sensitive health issues, the better equipped you (and your doctor) will be to address them.

"As a physician, I can only help address problems when I know about them," Dr. Miles says. "It's important for patients to understand that we view medical exam rooms as sacred ground where patients can talk about anything."

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition or treatment, or before starting a new healthcare regimen and never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you've read on this website.