by Cary Barbor
The hope is always that you're healthy. But limited contact with a physician might mean that underlying medical conditions could get swept under the rug. Next time you're on the exam table, spend that precious appointment opening up to your doctor -- even about the slightly embarrassing, silly, and seemingly minor things.
Keeping this stuff to yourself could mean putting your overall health at risk. You're better off letting it all hang out in the open so you and your doctor can work through it together. Besides, says Nancy Simpkins, MD: "Whatever it is, patients can be sure I have heard it before, and there is probably a simple solution." Duly noted. Here's what you should definitely be discussing during your next appointment:
1. A weird-looking mole, wart, or acne. Your doctor might write you a scrip for an infection or something to treat breakouts; she might also decide that mole has gotta go and remove it right then and there. But it's your job to bring any skin stuff out into the open. Melanoma happens to teens, too, and catching it early is the best possible scenario.
2. A sports injury. No, it's not just part of the game. Listen to your body and speak up when it's hurting. A sprained ankle or shin splints might seem like something you can just power through, but these things get worse when they go untreated.
3. An extreme diet. Your doc can give you the dirty details of "healthy" food crazes like juicing, fasting, and other eating patterns that don't support your nutritional needs (for more on that, check out the latest eating disorder that's sweeping the nation). Everyone can use a reality check when it comes to food. That's what your doc is there for.
4. Pain or discomfort when you pee. Don't assume this will go away on its own! That feeling could indicate a urinary tract infection (which you should never, ever ignore), a yeast infection, an STD or STI, and even pelvic inflammatory disease. Talk it out; get it treated; pee in peace once again.
5. Irregular periods. Whether too heavy, too light, too often, or not often enough, weird menstrual cycle stuff can be a sign of something more serious. If something seems super off it probably is, so book an appointment with your gynecologist. And remember, what goes on between you and your doc is confidential, so don't be afraid to spill the beans.
6. Sex and contraception. Your physician will likely ask you whether you're having sex and with whom, if you're using protection, and if you're on birth control. Relax: She simply wants you to have the best, most solid information you can so you stay healthy. If you feel judged or like you're not getting the facts, move on: It's time for a different doc.
7. You're feeling down or anxious. The struggle is real--no, seriously. If blues and panicky thoughts get in the way of living your life, then it's time to ask for help. There's no shame, and you're definitely not alone. Bring up your mental health at your appointment so the doc can direct your to the resources and support systems you need to feel better.
8. Dating violence or domestic violence. This is such a hard thing to talk about because it means admitting that someone you care about is abusing you. But you owe it to yourself to tell someone, and your doctor is just the person to share this information with because they'll know exactly what to do next.
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