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Tough talks

Talking with your healthcare provider about your sex life, unusual bowel movements or feelings of depression is never easy. Revealing that you’re the victim of domestic violence or that you have a drinking problem can be even tougher. Yet all relate to your health and warrant medical attention. Getting the proper treatment begins with an honest dialogue. The next time you have an embarrassing question or problem, remember these tips:

  • Find an understanding healthcare provider. Some women prefer talking to other women; others just want a compassionate listener. Remember, the doctor should be there to help you, not to judge or preach.
  • Keep in mind that your doctor has heard it before. No matter how upsetting a problem might seem, your doctor has most likely dealt with it several times before—especially if he or she has been in practice for a while.
  • Bring visual aids. If you’re having trouble launching the conversation, consider showing him or her an article about your problem.
  • Write down details and questions. Whether it’s changes in bowel movements, depression or sexual dysfunction, describe what you’re experiencing and when it started, so you have a clear picture of what’s going on and can answer your doctor’s questions. Listing your own questions will help you get the answers you’re seeking.
  • Use the right words. While you don’t need to get too technical, it can help if you describe your problem with the right anatomical terms and a good description of your symptoms.
  • Talk about the effects on your life. How have changes in your bowel patterns affected your life or the lack of desire impacted your relationship? The answers will help your doctor assess the seriousness of your problem, which will help determine treatment.