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Health Matters on Your Mind? 5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor

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The time you spend actually talking with your doctor during an appointment is short, so go in there prepared to make the most of it. Be ready with questions about what's on your mind. It's a good idea to have them written down ahead of time.

Not sure what you should be asking about? Here are five questions to consider taking into your appointment with you.

1) Should I be concerned about STIs?

A sexually transmitted infection is contracted by having sexual contact with someone who already has the infection. STIs can be viruses, bacteria or parasites and can be detected using simple tests. Tests differ for different type of STIs.

While both men and women can get sexually transmitted infections, women are known to have more frequent and more serious complications from STIs than men.

If left untreated, sexually transmitted infections can cause complications such as cancer, infertility and pregnancy problems. It is crucial to test for STIs if you are sexually active because many of these types of infections have mild symptoms or none. You can have an STI without even knowing it.

The chances of an individual contracting an STI is dependent on risk factors such as the number of sex partners, and whether or not he or she has engaged in unprotected sex. Common STIs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, HPV, HIV and hepatitis.

2) What is causing my abdominal discomfort?

Abdominal discomfort, feeling bloated, gassy or achy, is quite common. It's not unusual after a bad meal, before or during menstruation, and during moments of nervousness or anxiety.

If symptoms last more than 24-48 hours, if you have a fever, or if you notice a change in bowel movements, bring it up to your doctor immediately.

Chronic discomfort can indicate problems such as appendicitis, ovarian cysts or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

Your doctor can rule out such conditions by preforming tests ranging in complexity from pressing on your abdomen to ordering an X-ray.

3) What cancer screenings should I be concerned about?

Cervical cancer and breast cancer are becoming a major concern for women of all ages. Women who have family members with breast cancer or ovarian cancer can be evaluated to see if they have a family history associated with a harmful gene mutations BRCA1 or BRCA2.

Several screening tools are available to doctors for this evaluation. Testing for this gene mutation can help your doctor develop a prevention plan for you.

Consult your gynecologist about Pap smears to check for cervical cancer and find out when to go for mammograms.

4) If my symptoms worsen, what can I do to improve them? When should I contact you?

Symptom management is a large part of a successful treatment plan. The answer to this question depends on what condition is being treated so you definitely want to ask this question before you leave your doctor’s office.

Make sure to follow the original plan your doctor set out for you. That includes taking medications regularly. If you find your symptoms worsen despite following instructions, call your doctor’s office and ask how you can speak to him or her.

5) Can the medications you are prescribing for me adversely interact with other medications I'm on?

Drug interactions and associated health effects are not to be taken lightly. As the patient, it is your responsibility to notify your doctor of any medications you are on.

If you are seeing more than one doctor, they may or not be aware of medications you are already taking. Be sure to be as specific as possible when going over your health history with your doctor.


MedicineNet.com. Questions to ask your doctor. January 31 2015.

National Cancer Institute. BCRA1 and BCRA2: cancer risk and genetic testing. January 31 2015.

Reader’s Digest Best Health. 10 Questions to ask your doctor. January 31 2015.

Womenshealth.gov. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) fact sheet. January 31 2015.

Reviewed February 2, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.