Feeling Good About Your Body When You Have Crohn's
Get Your Doctor On Board
If you, like Ringer, find that your doctors are taking care of your Crohn's but not your body image or other concerns, you can change that.
“Patients should feel empowered to ask for what they feel is necessary and not at all feel they are the only ones with these problems,” says Corey A. Siegel, MD. He's director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center in Dartmouth, NH.
Sometimes, doctors haven’t been trained to ask about these issues, and often there isn’t time.
“When [you're] doing all the other things during a visit, you may not get to other areas of concern, like body image,” says David T. Rubin, MD. He is co-director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at the University of Chicago.
To get your concerns addressed, you can:
Start the conversation. If your doctor isn’t asking about everything that matters to you, write a list of your concerns, in order of importance, and give it to your doctor. There may be medications or other treatments that can help.
Be honest. Feel free to ask your doctor anything, including questions about sex, relationships, accidents, or other personal concerns -- including things that affect your confidence or self-esteem. For example, if you have a big event coming up, like a wedding, and you don't want unpleasant side effects from steroids to show up in the photos, tell your doctor.
Make it a team effort. You might want to add other health professionals to your team. They might include a psychologist, social worker, or counselor; an advanced practice nurse; a nutritionist; or a sex therapist. Ask your doctor for referrals to specialists experienced in helping people with Crohn's. You may also find this kind of team approach at a dedicated IBD Center.
Schedule well-visits. It’s easier to discuss these issues at maintenance appointments when you aren’t feeling sick. “If you are only managing your Crohn’s disease in crisis mode, you will never get to a place where you can talk about these other things,” Rubin says.