The Lies Women Tell Their Doctors
THE LIE: "I'm not a big drinker."
Doctors have an unspoken rule: Whatever you tell them you
drink, they double it. "Lots of women claim, 'I drink once a week,'"
says Rakhi Dimino, M.D., an ob/gyn at the Woman's Hospital of Texas in Houston.
"But then they drink six or seven cocktails in an evening."
"I always lie about drinking," admits Amanda, 33, an entertainment
coordinator from Orlando, FL. "My doctor prescribed me the antidepressant
Zoloft and told me not to drink any alcohol while taking it. Then I went
to a wine tasting and drank anyway." That night, she awoke in a cold sweat
with heart palpitations. "At the emergency room, the doctor asked me which
drugs I was on. When I said Zoloft, he asked if I'd taken any drugs or drunk
any alcohol. I flat-out lied and said that I'd had not a drop."
The ER staff tried to sleuth out what else could be making Amanda ill; then
her blood alcohol test came back. "The doctor said, 'The test shows you've
been drinking, and this is a common reaction with Zoloft and alcohol.' He told
me that I would have saved a lot of time and money if I'd been honest. I didn't
say a thing. I just wanted to get out of there with my tail between my
WHY YOU SHOULD COME CLEAN: Drug and alcohol interactions are very
common. If your doctor knows that you imbibe, even a little, she can prescribe
meds that won't mix badly with a glass of wine. She can also counsel you on
alcohol's risks for women. For starters, having one to two drinks a day can
raise your risk for breast cancer; heavy consumption is linked to liver
disease, brain damage, and stroke and can put you at risk for assault and car
Concealing what you drink may signal another disease: "Denial is part of
addiction," says Brenda Iliff, clinical director of Hazelden Women's
Recovery Center in Center City, MN.
THE LIE: "I'm monogamous."
Cheryl, 48, went to see her gyno for what she thought was a yeast infection
— and was shocked to learn she actually had trichomoniasis, an STD. She didn't
want to admit she was juggling four guys, so when the doctor asked how many
partners she had, "I said one, of course," recalls the accountant from
Knoxville, TN. The doctor gave Cheryl enough medication for her and her
partner. But Cheryl kept seeing the other guys too. "I went back for my
checkup, and my gyno says, 'You still have this. You haven't told me the whole
truth, have you?' I said, 'Yes, I have.' She didn't want to call me a liar, but
she said, 'You have to treat everyone you're seeing, or quit seeing the ones
you don't want and treat the one you do. Otherwise, you'll never get rid of
this.'" Cheryl dumped the other guys and continued treatment with her main
man. "But afterward, I changed doctors," she admits. "I couldn't
face her anymore."
WHY YOU SHOULD COME CLEAN: Your doctor doesn't ask about your sex
life to judge your morals. What does concern her is that sleeping with more
than one person may increase your risk for STDs. Delayed STD treatment can mean
a more entrenched pelvic infection, fertility problems — even cervical cancer.
"If your gyno knows you have several partners, she may recommend you have
an annual Pap test and get screened more frequently for STDs," says