Have you ever had a medical issue that you didn’t feel comfortable sharing with even your closest friend or family member? If so, chances are you may have found it difficult to discuss your symptoms with your doctor, as well, and may have even delayed—or completely avoided–making an appointment as a result.
Here are some tips for discussing awkward and personal health issues with your doctor to ensure you receive the best and most timely care.
Prepare for your visit
It’s normal to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable when discussing personal or sensitive topics with your doctor. However, it’s important to remember that they are there to help you and have likely heard similar concerns from other patients. Here are a few ways to help you overcome embarrassment and feel more comfortable talking to your doctor:
- Remind yourself of the importance of the visit: Your health is important and discussing your concerns with your doctor can lead to getting the help and treatment you need.
- Prepare beforehand: Write down any questions or concerns you have so you don’t forget them during the appointment.
- Remember that your doctor is bound by confidentiality: Anything you discuss with them is protected by medical privacy laws and they will not share your information with anyone without your permission.
- Practice deep breathing or other relaxation techniques: Doing this before and during the appointment can help you feel more relaxed.
- Take a trusted person with you: Take a friend or family member with you for support and to help you remember important information.
- Be honest and direct: Be clear about what you want to talk about and why it’s important to you.
- Find the right doctor: If you’re not comfortable talking to your current doctor, it’s worth considering finding a new one that you feel more comfortable with (see below).
Find the right doctor
Choosing a doctor that you feel comfortable with is important for your overall health and well-being. Here are a few tips for finding a doctor that you feel comfortable with:
- Ask for recommendations: Ask friends, family, and other healthcare providers for recommendations of doctors they have had positive experiences with.
- Check online reviews: Look for online reviews of doctors in your area to see what other patients have said about their experiences.
- Consider their qualifications: Make sure the doctor has the appropriate qualifications for your needs.
- Check their availability: Make sure the doctor is accepting new patients and consider their office hours and location.
- Research the doctor’s background: You can look up the doctor’s education, training, and board certification through the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) website.
- Schedule a meet and greet: Many doctors offer a free consultation, take advantage of it and meet with the doctor before deciding if they’re the right fit for you.
- Consider your comfort level: Trust your instincts and choose a doctor that you feel comfortable with and can talk openly with about any concerns you may have.
It’s important to remember that you have the right to change doctors if you are not satisfied with the care you are receiving. To choose a doctor, visit the Brown & Toland Physicians Find a Doctor tool.
Should I choose a doctor who shares my background?
Having a doctor that you have something in common with can make it easier to communicate and build trust. It’s important to have a doctor that you feel comfortable talking to and can relate to, because it can facilitate open communication and a better understanding of your concerns and needs.
For example, it is not wrong for an LGBTQ+ person to prefer a doctor who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, as everyone has the right to feel comfortable and safe when discussing personal and sensitive information with their healthcare provider. Having a doctor who understands and is sensitive to the specific concerns and experiences of the LGBTQ+ community can lead to better communication and more effective care.
Similarly, you may prefer a doctor who speaks your language. In fact, it can be very beneficial for effective communication and understanding of medical information. Miscommunication can lead to misunderstandings and mistakes, which can have serious consequences for your health.
Having a doctor who speaks your language can help ensure that you fully understand your diagnosis, treatment options, and instructions for care. It can also make it easier for you to discuss personal and sensitive information and can help build trust with your doctor.
If you do not speak the same language as your doctor, you may consider bringing a translator or an interpreter to your appointment to help facilitate communication. Most health care providers will make sure to provide the necessary language support for patients.
What’s most important
It’s important to remember that while a doctor that you have something in common with may be more relatable, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the best fit for your needs. It’s also important to consider factors such as the doctor’s qualifications, availability, location, and communication style. If you feel comfortable discussing your personal information with them and trust their medical judgement, that might be the ideal doctor for you.
Finally, not all doctors share the same background as you, so it might not be possible for you to have a doctor who does. Ultimately, it’s a personal preference and it’s important to find a doctor that you feel comfortable with and can trust. And remember, you always have the right to switch doctors if you’re not satisfied with the care you’re receiving.
MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: The content of this Website or Blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website or Blog.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately, call your doctor, or go to the emergency room/urgent care.