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6 symptoms you shouldn’t be embarrassed to show your GP

Sometimes people avoid going to see the GP because they’re embarrassed by their symptoms.

But don’t put off seeing your doctor – they will have seen it all before. Here are six good reasons to banish your blushes and make a doctor’s appointment.

1. Your bottom’s bleeding

If you notice blood on the loo paper after wiping your bottom or on your stool, don’t panic. Rectal bleeding could be a symptom of bowel cancer. In less serious cases, it could indicate piles, a tear (after constipation) or could be a side effect of medication. If bleeding persists for more than 3 weeks, you should have it examined (see NHS advice here). Darker red blood or black blood in your stool also needs to be investigated. It may mean bleeding in the stomach or gut. It’s always better to speak to your GP than to leave it and they will be very used to examining bottoms.

2. You have unexplained discharge

Postmenopausal bleeding isn’t usually serious, but it needs to be taken seriously as it can be a symptom of cancer. Additionally, bleeding between periods or post-sex can be a sign of a tear or an infection. However, it can also be caused by abnormalities in the cervix, polyps, fibroids or cancer. Book an appointment with your GP - they will be best placed to decide on any course of action and put your mind at ease.

In men, discharge from the penis can be due to irritation or poor hygiene. It can also point to a sexually transmitted infection or inflammation of the urethra. Find out more here. The discharge may be accompanied with soreness and discomfort – or you may need to pee frequently. See your GP for advice and treatment.

3. Your testicles are lumpy

Most swellings or lumps on the testicles are benign. However, swelling inside the testis can be cancerous. In men under 50, testicular cancer is the most common malignant tumour. The good news is that following early diagnosis and treatment, 95% of men are cured of testicular cancer. The key here is not waiting to see the doctor as the earlier you go, the sooner you can get it sorted.

4. You notice you’re forgetful

Memory problems can be caused by a number of issues – reaction to medication, dehydration, stress, depression or a sleeping problem. It can also be natural to forget names and other details as we age. But memory issues or confusion shouldn’t be ignored. If you are worried about your (or a loved one’s) ability to remember things, make an appointment to see your GP. They may refer you for some further checks - a diagnosis may lead to treatment that can help to slow the symptoms. If you’re concerned about dementia find out more here.

5. You have unexplained bruising

Sometimes finding an unexpected bruise might mean you’ve knocked yourself without noticing. And as we age and the skin becomes thinner, we bruise more easily. However, if a bruise doesn’t go away or you are prone to unexplained bruises, it is a good idea to see the GP. These can also be a sign of an underlying illness. Make an appointment – especially if you’re noticing any other health changes.

6. You feel very anxious or depressed 

Mental health problems are nothing to be ashamed of and you are not alone in struggling. One in four of us will be affected in any year. If anxiety or depression is affecting your day-to-day life and making simple tasks difficult, it’s important to seek help. Long-term anxiety can lead to other health problems, so it’s important to address the issue. Your GP will be able to advise on support available locally as well as treatment. As a Benenden Health member, you are also eligible to our Mental Health Helpline around the clock. Call 0800 414 8247 and have your membership number handy and you will be put in contact with a therapist who will provide telephone support.

Remember, if it’s tricky to get an NHS appointment, you can use your Benenden Health membership to speak to a GP 24/7. Call 0800 414 8247 to book a call-back appointment, or learn more on our website.