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Medical problems that we find embarrassing to see a doctor about

Written by: Editors

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“Hello doctor. My breath smells terrible. Is there a remedy for bad breath?” We suspect you would rather swim in a river full of piranhas than have this conversation with your doctor. There are a lot of people with medical problems that they find embarrassing to see a doctor about. Even to the point of avoiding getting medical help. But why is this exactly? And what health issues are considered the most embarrassing? It’s time to summarise.

What makes us nervous or scared to see a doctor?

There are many reasons why people avoid going to the doctor. Usually, it has to do with the medical problem itself. There are health issues, such as anal or genital problems, that most people would rather not discuss. Especially not with a ‘stranger’. But there are also other reasons for not seeking medical care:

  1. Some people are afraid the doctor won’t take them seriously. They wouldn’t want to interrupt the doctor’s busy schedule with insignificant problems like bad breath or sweaty feet.
  2. Fear of medical examinations is another reason why people would rather not see a doctor. They may experience anxiety over drawing blood or about the doctor running tests. Some people fear pain or are reluctant to undress in front of a doctor.
  3. Some people find it difficult to talk about their problems with a doctor without blushing or stammering. This fear can be a reason for delaying or forgoing visits to their doctor.
  4. It’s also possible that the problem has a more deeply rooted cause, such as a bad medical experience in the past. For people in this category, excessive feelings of fear, nervousness and anxiety flare up at the mere thought of a doctor, let alone actually having to visit one, so tend to avoid doctor’s visits altogether.

What health problems would we rather not discuss with a doctor?

People are often reluctant to talk about these issues in the doctor’s office:

  1. Sexual problems: such as loss of libido, erectile dysfunction or possible STDs. These problems are high on the list of ’embarrassing’ health problems. And that’s a shame, because they are usually treatable. What’s more, the earlier STDs are treated, the smaller the risk of any long-term problems.
  2. Bowel or rectal troubles: such as haemorrhoids, flatulence or constipation. Many problems can be avoided by eating fibre-rich foods. But make sure to drink plenty of fluids. Fibre draws water into the bowel, so you could get dehydrated if you don’t drink enough, which will make the problem worse. If you have persistent or severe side effects, or if you notice any concerning symptoms such as blood in your stool, you should make an appointment with your doctor.
  3. Urinary problems: such as urine leakage when sneezing or laughing. This type of incontinence is quite common and can be caused by weakened pelvic floor muscles or prostate problems. In most cases the problem is treatable. Therefore, it makes sense to see your doctor as soon as possible.
  4. Vaginal yeast infection: vaginal problems or still a taboo subject for many people. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Sometimes the problem clears up on its own, but in some cases it may be necessary to see a doctor.

Tips for visiting your GP

Don’t delay a visit to the doctor. Most health issues can be resolved. In some cases, delaying medical care can even put your health at risk. So how do you get through those embarrassing moments? Here are some tips!

  1. Look up the medical term for the health issue that you are reluctant to see your doctor about. Often, the medical terms are a lot less embarrassing, which makes it easier to talk about the problem. For example, the medical term for farting is ‘flatulence’. Bad breath is called ‘halitosis’. However, don’t pay too much mind to what you read online about medical conditions. You can find any symptom to fit any disease or condition, so it’s easy to blow a minor problem out of proportion.
  2. Remember that doctors don’t get embarrassed no matter what issue you bring to the table. For them, asymmetrical labia and smelly feet are just as normal as warts and headache.
  3. At the start of the consultation, acknowledge to the doctor that you have some difficulty talking about your health issue. This can help relieve some of your anxiety and give the doctor the opportunity to put you at ease.

Still dreading to see you doctor about a medical condition? Then perhaps an online doctor’s consultation is the solution for you. Consult a doctor via


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Zwaag, M.v.d. (2019). Voor deze aandoeningen schamen we ons het meest bij de huisarts (The most embarrassing health issues that we dread talking about with our GP). Consulted on

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