Whether it's with your partner or a health professional, it can be tough to speak up about health concerns. You might feel nervous, embarrassed or uncomfortable about being vulnerable, but it’s important that you don’t put off a conversation that could better your health.
One in five men says their partner or a family member is their go-to source of health information. Your loved ones can be a helpful source of support and a good first step in addressing a health issue. However, it’s important to seek professional help to get the best advice and effective solutions.
Here are some tips for talking to a doctor about your health.
Break the ice
“Often the hardest part is starting the conversation,” Dr Rhys Young says. “I think it's great to start off by asking a more general question to break the ice.” For example, if you’re chatting to your GP about erectile dysfunction you could start with these prompts.
- I want to talk about some issues in the bedroom
- I've got a men's health issue that I want to discuss
- I'm having some problems with my sexual health
- I'm a bit nervous, but I want some help with something personal
Once you've brought up the topic, your doctor should follow up with questions to learn more about your situation.
Being open and honest about your health is important for getting the best possible care. Doctors are trained to talk about and treat all sorts of sensitive issues and there’s nothing they haven’t heard or seen before.
While most doctors should feel comfortable discussing all aspects of health, that’s not always the case. If you get the feeling you’re being dismissed or judged, find another doctor who is more familiar with men’s health. Don’t let a disappointing experience put you off getting solutions.
Write down questions
“When you book your appointment, think about the questions you would like answered and write them down on a piece of paper or the note app on your phone,” Dr Rhys says. “When you're chatting about something that makes you nervous, it's common to forget things and this can help you make sure you leave the consult with all your questions answered.”
It can also help to come prepared with information about your symptoms, how long you’ve experienced them and in what situations they occur.
Use language that feels natural for you
Whether you’re describing what’s going on in your head or an issue you’re having downstairs, use words and descriptions that come naturally to you. If what you’re hearing back from your doctor doesn’t make sense to you or they use unfamiliar terms, ask them to explain it a bit better.