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Women's Health

The Lies Women Tell Their Doctors

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THE LIE: "Of course I floss!"

"When I was in practice, I heard this lie every day," laughs Paula Jones, D.D.S., now president of the Academy of General Dentistry. "I'd ask, 'How often?'" And the truth would start to come out. "They'd say, 'Oh, a couple of times a week' or 'I only do this one tooth where food gets caught.'"

WHY YOU SHOULD COME CLEAN: Neglecting to floss leads directly to tooth decay, gum inflammation, and gum disease — and a growing body of research suggests that gum disease may contribute to cardiovascular disease. Some studies also suggest a link between gum disease and a life-threatening pregnancy complication called preeclampsia. If you cop to being a non-flosser, your dentist can make doubly sure to watch for and help you prevent these dangerous conditions.

THE LIE: "I've never had an STD."

"Many women are embarrassed about having had a sexually transmitted disease," says Dimino. Jessica, 37, never let on that she'd had chlamydia and HPV in college because she was afraid she'd be denied health insurance when setting up her own business. But she also believed it wasn't anyone else's affair. "My feeling was: That was then; it's taken care of, so they don't need to know," says the Littleton, CO, Web designer.

WHY YOU SHOULD COME CLEAN: The ghosts of STDs past can come back to haunt you later. Hiding that you had HPV may put you at higher risk for cervical cancer if your gyno doesn't think you need annual Pap tests. Keeping quiet may also put you at risk for pregnancy complications. For instance, if your doctor knows you've had gonorrhea or chlamydia — especially if you also developed pelvic inflammatory disease — she'll watch more carefully for ectopic pregnancy, since both can scar the fallopian tubes, preventing a fertilized egg from reaching the uterus. And telling your ob that you have genital herpes when you're pregnant may help you avoid a predelivery flare-up — and a C-section as a result. "If you tell me you have it, even if your last flare-up was ages ago, I can put you on medication to suppress an outbreak before delivery," says Dimino.

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