See your doctor: 6 symptoms you shouldn't be embarrassed of
Sometimes people avoid going to see the GP because they’re embarrassed by their symptoms.
But don’t put off seeing your doctor – they'll have seen it all before. Learn how to tackle feelings of embarrassment, and six symptoms you definitely shouldn't ignore.
How to overcome embarrassment at the doctors
Many people put off going to the doctors due to so-called embarrassing symptoms. Early diagnosis can be lifesaving, and reduce the need for more complex or invasive procedures down the line.
Your symptom might not point to anything serious – but you should still get it checked out, especially if it’s impacting your quality of life. You deserve to be happy and healthy.
When you’re feeling embarrassed, it can be difficult to express yourself properly. Before your appointment, write down your symptoms and any questions you want to ask. This can help you to remember everything you want to say. You can even show your GP what you’ve written if you can’t face saying it out loud.
Remember that your GP isn’t a mind-reader. If you’re feeling embarrassed, let them know. This will make it easier for them to give you the support and patience you need. Some good phrases to arm yourself with are ‘I’ve never told anyone this before’ or ‘This is uncomfortable for me to say’.
The more information you can give your doctor, the better they’ll be able to help you.
Know the signs and symptoms for when you should seek medical advice.
1. Your bottom’s bleeding
If you notice blood on the loo paper after wiping your bottom or on your stool, don’t panic. 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.
Darker red blood or black blood in your stool also needs to be investigated. It may mean bleeding in the stomach or gut. Rectal bleeding could also be a symptom of bowel cancer. 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
Vaginal discharge is a common symptom but if the discharge isn’t clear or odour free then it may be that you have an infection. 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. Postmenopausal bleeding isn’t usually serious, but it needs to be taken seriously as it can be a symptom of 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. 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
Testicular size and shape is different for everyone – the key is to look for a change in your normal. Most changes aren’t serious, however, swelling inside the testis can be cancerous. In men under 50, testicular cancer is the most common cancer for this age group. 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, menopause or a sleeping problem. Long covid can also cause memory loss or brain fog.
It can 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, find out more about dementia.
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 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.
Where can I find help for these symptoms?
These are some symptoms which indicate that you should seek medical advice and book a GP appointment. As a Benenden Health member, you are also eligible to access our GP 24/7 helpline and Mental Health Helpline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.