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3 Uncomfortable Conversations You Should Have With Your Doctor

Jul 27, 2016 02:00PM ● By Cate Reynolds
Many women are often nervous or even embarrassed to ask their doctor about personal health issues. We asked doctors at Anne Arundel Medical Center to share with us some of those uncomfortable conversations you should be having with your doctor.

1. Is ‘leakage’ normal?

If you’re running to the bathroom multiple times a day or leaking when you exercise, you’re not alone. About 18 million American women suffer from urinary incontinence, which is when urine leaks unintentionally. According to AAMC Urogyneclologist Kay Hoskey, MD, there are many causes, including some medical conditions, medications, childbirth, or age-related changes. Incontinence is common and many women think it’s just something they have to live with. Dr. Hoskey wants you to know that’s not true. “Your doctor can offer a variety of solutions, such as changing certain habits, pelvic floor therapy, medication, or minimally-invasive surgery,” says Dr. Hoskey.

2. Why does sex hurt sometimes?

Like incontinence, pain during sex is a common issue. Menopause can cause issues with pain and dryness during sex. “Your doctor can help identify or rule out any underlying problem as the cause of your discomfort,” says Yong Zheng, MD, a urogynecologist at AAMC. You should feel comfortable asking about symptoms related to your intimate health. “Your doctor can prescribe or recommend a variety of solutions to help, such a prescription creams or therapy,” says Dr. Zheng. Sex should never hurt.

3. I’m concerned about human papillomavirus (HPV) & the HPV vaccine. What should I know for me and for my children?

HPV is a sexually transmitted infection, but what many people do not realize is its links to cancer. According to AAMC Oncologist Carol Tweed, MD, your immune system usually clears the virus, but in some people the virus can persist for years. In those cases, HPV can convert healthy cells into cancerous cells. HPV can cause cancer in many locations, including the cervix, vagina, penis, vulva, anus, mouth and throat. The virus settles in these areas during sexual contact and can persist to cause cancer years later. Dr. Tweed emphasizes the importance of women ages 21-65 having their Pap test as a way of detecting these precancers.

When it comes to children and HPV, AAMC Pediatrician Dwight Fortier, MD, begins offering the HPV vaccine to both boys and girls ages 11-12 as a cancer preventative tool. He says the main issue for a lot of parents is that it raises the issue of sexuality—often even before the onset of puberty—which makes many parents uncomfortable. Parents feel that if their children are not going to be sexually active, why use the vaccine. Dr. Fortier says often the reality is that many parents have no idea when their children are going to become sexually active.

For those parents who are hesitant about the vaccine, Dr. Fortier encourages them to have an open conversation with their doctor to have all of their questions answered. “I explain that sooner is better, in order to have immunologic protection already onboard at the time of exposure,” says Dr. Fortier. “I give them written info, and ask them to think about it, knowing that if I see them yearly for a health evaluation they may be ready for the vaccine at the next visit.”

3 Uncomfortable Conversations was provided by Anne Arundel Medical Center

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