A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

5 tips on discussing sensitive topics with your provider

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Achieving optimal health may mean discussing embarrassing health issues that make you uncomfortable. Here are five tips on discussing sensitive topics with your provider.

Achieving optimal health sometimes means discussing embarrassing health problems or issues that may make you feel uncomfortable. Avoiding these topics out of fear can prevent you from getting the very best treatment and finding the relief you deserve.

“With more than 40 years of experience in health care, I build personal relationships with my patients,” said Cindy Stippich, Certified Nurse Midwife with Marshfield Clinic Health System. It’s valuable to have open communication between providers and patients to provide the best care possible.”

  1. Find a provider who makes you feel comfortable

You don’t have to continue visiting the same provider if you don’t feel comfortable with them. If you notice that they interrupt you when you talk, fail to answer your questions or show empathy when you need it most, find another provider who is a better fit for you.

  1. Become a regular patient

Once you find a provider you like and feel comfortable with, Stippich recommends visiting the office regularly.

“Over time, you’re likely to develop a close-knit relationship and feel more at ease about talking to your provider about sensitive medical issues,” she said.

  1. Write down your concerns

If you have a difficult time opening up to your provider about embarrassing health problems in person, Stippich advises writing a note about your problem and bringing it to your appointment.

If your provider is available through an online messaging system, like My Marshfield Clinic, submit your concerns there. This electronic communication before your appointment may help ease any discomfort you feel about explaining your issue to your provider in person.

  1. Ask to talk with your provider before your exam

If you’d feel more comfortable talking with your provider before donning an exam gown – let your nurse know when you arrive in the exam room.

“Many locations can arrange for providers to see you before you’re asked to disrobe, especially if it puts you at ease,” Stippich said.

  1. Remember your provider is there to help, not judge

Know that other patients talk to your provider about sensitive health topics all the time. Nothing you say will shock them. Rather than judging you, your provider will appreciate your honesty and commitment to taking charge of your health.

“It’s my job to listen carefully and determine the best way to alleviate your concerns,” Stippich said. “It’s important to be honest with your provider because we are here to help.”

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