What's Up Doc?

The strong, silent type. It’s the male image made iconic in the movies since the westerns of early Hollywood to today’s modern-day, high-tech thrillers. That persona usually gets the girl or saves the day. But do you know where it doesn’t work? The strong, silent type doesn’t work when you’re a patient and talking with a doctor.

Opening up and talking to a doctor isn’t easy. No one likes to show vulnerability, admit to having problems, talk about embarrassing things or show perceived weakness. Here are some tough questions to ask the doctor.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions about stuff “down there.” Questions about colonoscopies and prostate health could save your life. Ask your doctor how to check yourself for testicular cancer. Ask about trouble urinating or passing a strong, steady stream of urine. It could be the sign of an enlarged prostate. Ask about blood in your urine or stool. Does your butt itch or get acne? These aren’t natural things and shouldn’t be ignored.
  • Related to “down there,” talk to your doctor about your sexual health. Are you having problems getting and maintaining erections or having premature ejaculations? Discuss abnormalities about your penis or semen. Unresolved problems can damage relationships, destroy your self-confidence, and cause anxiety and mental and emotional stress.
  • Don’t hold anything back when describing symptoms. Be specific, descriptive and completely upfront. There’s no shame in saying “I’ve never felt like this before.” You’re there for a reason. You don’t earn points for withholding things. You’re not rocking the boat. Your health is at stake.
  • Tell the doctor if you feel depressed. Men don’t like to reveal their feelings or seek assistance. Depression is life threatening because it can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. Depression is also the leading cause of suicide, and men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women.
  • Vaccines aren’t just for kids. Even though you might be vaccinated for measles, polio and other childhood diseases, make sure you talk to your doctor about vaccines for the flu, pneumonia and shingles.
  • Be inquisitive about medications. Is there a generic alternative? What about dosages and side effects, and foods and liquids that you should avoid while taking it. What should you do if you experience side effects? Does the medicine affect your allergies and it is OK to take with your other medications, vitamins and supplements?
  • Men like to self-medicate with supplements often on the advice of other guys. It’s not a good idea to take supplements without the advice of a doctor. Bring your bottles to the appointment or write down what you’re taking. Your doctor will make sure the supplements are right for you.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about preventing baldness. Don’t just accept it. There are modern methods to curtail or stall baldness.
  • Ask about bad breath, flatulence or your breasts getting overly large. Enlarged breasts in men is a medical condition called gynecomastia.
  • Speak up if you don’t understand the instructions the doctor has given you. Ask for written instructions or ask the doctor to even draw pictures if it might help you understand. Ask for permission to record the doctor’s instructions with your cell phone.
  • This may sound strange but ask your doctor if they’ve washed their hands before examining you. It may seem uncomfortable to ask but it could save you from getting sick. It’s perfectly proper to ask and the doctor will probably be glad you did.
  • Bring a family member, friend or caregiver with you as support, a sounding board or as another set of ears that hears everything.