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5 Things You Should Never Hide from Your Doctor

Here's five things you shouldn't hide from your doctor and why.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

If there's a time and place to be totally honest and revealing about personal details of your life it's the doctor's office. While it can be tempting to hold back information because who wants to spill their guts to someone they don't really know, it's not helpful for you in the long run. Without being completely honest, doctors can't do their job and treat you properly. "A big part of visiting healthcare providers and getting checked is exposing our body function and parts. People may feel hesitant about sharing symptoms and signs, but healthcare providers are used to these conversations and ask about these for a purpose," Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani, MBBS, Ph.D., a professor of public health at New Mexico State University tells us. "Even if they don't and you have distress due to these signs and symptoms, volunteer to share as it will improve your health outcomes, help further with diagnosis, and give greater clues to your provider on best possible therapies and interventions." Read on to find out five things you should never hide from your doctor and why—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Bladder or Bowel Problems


Dr. Khubchandani says, "Difficulty defecating or urinating, pain in abdomen, constipation and acidity can be extremely discomforting and could indicate a serious underlying disease (e.g., kidney infections, intestinal tumors, etc.). Interestingly, many of these problems affect a sizable proportion of the American population (e.g., urinary incontinence, constipation, pain during urinating, etc.) and disclosing these bowel and bladder related issues would help find solutions that are targeted to the problem."


Sexual and Reproductive Health

couple in live holding hads while lying in bed together

Dr. Khubchandani tells us, "Sexual wellbeing and optimum reproductive health are key for overall health, quality of life, and social functioning. As embarrassing as it may feel, these problems can be common, of various types, and often not visible to healthcare providers unless we disclose them. Erectile dysfunction, sexually transmitted infections, pain during or after sex, irregular or painful periods and menstrual cycles are a few common examples. In recent times, given the high frequency of these problems in the society, we must also share our sexual health histories if relevant or if you suspect that as a cause of your health problems. For example, the recent Monkeypox outbreaks were initially associated with sexual transmission, multiple sexual partners can be an issue, or frequency and mode of sexual activities can also be causally related to common or serious health problems. Such disclosure may also help find clues to dysfunction in other organs or psychological issues."


Diet Quality and Quantity

intermittant fasting

Dr. Khubchandani reminds us, "Food is medicine and many of our problems are due to unhealthy diet, irregular eating schedules, trying extreme diets to meet the societal norms of health, not consuming enough proteins and fat, eating foods lacking in minerals and vitamins, or eating too much fast or junk food. Disclosure of diets can not only help find causes of diseases, but also help plan medication or therapy and ensure you get help in creating a well-balanced diet plan. Sometimes you can also be asked to avoid certain foods and dietary patterns (e.g., allergens, too many spices) or add other contents to your meals (e.g., fruits and vegetables)."



Female doctor talking while explaining medical treatment to patient through a video call with laptop in the consultation.

Dr. Khubchandani explains, "The prevalence of Over the Counter (OTC) medication use is ever increasing. Today, more than 100 million Americans use OTC in any given year for symptom relief and many would not seek a healthcare provider's advice or sometimes, not disclose what they have been using as OTC medicine. The OTC market in the U.S. has grown and is now worth more than $35 billion. While the OTC medications provide a great deal of benefit to healthcare systems worldwide, when they fail to help and you have to see a provider, share what you have taken. This would ensure that there is no repetition of medication or continuation of ineffective chemical combination of medicines. Also, failure of an OTC to help you may help providers think of a broad range of other issues that one may not think of otherwise (e.g., headaches that could end up being found as a tumor). Finally, if you fail to take medications, have side effects from them, or miss doses- these are critical pieces of information to monitor your progress or why your health problem is not being cured. Your providers can also find alternate strategies."


Supplements, Self-Help, Lifestyle

Smiling young lady looking at her vitamins

Dr. Khubchandani says, "Just like the OTC market, diet supplement usage and business is worth more than $50 billion with the vast majority of Americans using diet supplements at least once in any given year. These are being used for a wide variety of purpose from weight loss, to looking good, to improving sexual function or even brain health. However, the majority of the supplements are neither regulated nor effective. In fact, many can cause serious side effects.  One it is not advisable to take these unless known for efficacy, needed, or recommended. This is key information to also share with your healthcare providers- what if the supplement that you regularly consume is the cause of your health issue that took you to the provider?

Similarly, any self-help techniques you use can indicate how your body is behaving whether or not you get relief from these self-help measures. With regards to lifestyle, one must share the most about drug and alcohol or tobacco use, exercise and sleep habits, and psychological state. A provider prescribing or treating without these facts and details at hand may not always be successful resulting in failure which can be frustrating and expensive for you.

Discussion about your social history, occupation and family structure, your financial health can often be very relevant in deciding what would work best for you and if you can and feel that the provider must know, never hesitate to share."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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