The Top 8 Secrets You Keep from Your Doctor
Are you telling your doctor everything he needs to know to take care of you?
2. Your Sexual History
"It's really important for us to know how many sexual partners someone has
had, so if you've had 40, I may approach things differently than if you've had
four," says Lissa Rankin, MD, author of the forthcoming What's up Down
There? Questions You'd Only Ask your Gynecologist if She was your Best
It matters to a gynecologist because your lifetime chance of getting
sexually transmitted diseases rises with how many partners you've had. “The new
Pap guidelines say if you're low risk, you can go three years between Pap
smears, but if someone's had 100 sexual partners, then I would say that rule
doesn't apply to you," Rankin says.
Men need to come clean, too. Their risk for HIV, hepatitis, and other STDs
increase with the number of sexual partners and their sexual preference.
Doctors need to make sure men get screened properly and often enough.
3. How Much You Smoke, Drink, or use Illegal Substances
It may be difficult sharing these secrets because you think your doctor will
give you yet another smoking lecture or judge you. But doctors aren't there to
Plus, doctor-patient confidentiality laws ensure your information remains
private. In most states, doctors can only break confidence if someone is an
imminent danger to themselves or others.
What's more, your doctor needs to know what you're taking to protect your
health, run the right tests, and diagnose correctly.
For instance, "we may need to check your liver function or you may be at
risk of ulcers," Rankin says. There are a host of other medical issues if
you've got an addiction or take too much of any drug -- legal or not.
4. Whether You're Stressed, Depressed, or Abused
If you're often stressed or sad -- or if you're in an abusive relationship
-- speak up.
"Doctors may not be licensed therapists, but every primary care physician
who has been practicing for a number of years is a bit of a therapist because
we've heard it all," Kaminetsky says.
Your doctor can help in offering advice, referring you to the right
specialist, or suggesting a counselor to deal with stress. He can also evaluate
if medication or therapy might help with depression.
5. Defying Doctor's Orders
When your doctor asks if you're taking your cholesterol-lowering statins
daily, don't lie and nod your head if you forget three days a week. Admit that
you have trouble remembering.
The same goes for birth control pills. “If I give you the pill and you're
not good at taking a pill every day, that would change my approach to birth
control with somebody," Rankin says.
If you're bad about taking or finishing the drugs your doctor prescribed --
no matter what it is -- tell your doctor. Your doctor won't punish
you. But if, for instance, you've had a stubborn infection that won't clear up,
it helps your doctor to know that you didn't finish the antibiotic he or