Does caring too much about what other people think of us impact the health care we receive? Maybe. While questions coming from a co-worker, judgmental friend, or ‘well-meaning’ family member may need a little sugar coating to avoid being shamed (although 'none of your business' is also an acceptable answer), we shouldn't lie to our doctors, but we do.
The questions that your medical provider asks aren't so they can make judgments on your life, they're so they can collect all of the pertinent information they need in order to treat you, and your pregnancy. Just the same, many of us continue to lie to our doctors, and it's not benefiting anyone. Honesty really is the best policy when it comes to mom, and her baby's health and even omitting certain details can have a detrimental effect.
One woman mused to her friends on Gchat before a regular OB-Gyn appointment, "Man, it would be really cool if I were totally honest with my doctor this year," and found that over half of the friends she spoke to admitted that they have lied to their gynecologists. Is this a matter of the wrong fit of health care provider, or a bigger issue? For the sake of health and wellness for you and your baby's health, here are 15 lies pregnant women need to stop telling their gynecologists.
15 If You've Had An Abortion
Some women have found themselves pregnant before they're ready and make a difficult choice. While many want to leave the past in the past, it's your responsibility to let your gyno know about your reproductive history, even if it includes an abortion. Kimberley A. Thornton is a reproductive endocrinologist and an infertility specialist, and told Self magazine that there is absolutely no evidence that medical or surgical termination of a previous pregnancy will impact the ability to get pregnant in the future. Kimberly Thornton adds, "It’s not something we would expect to affect the ovaries or eggs. When done in a safe setting by a qualified practitioner, an abortion should not change your ability to get pregnant again later on in life. But it is possible for the procedure—or multiple procedures—to have a lasting effect on your reproductive organs."
14 When Intimacy Starts Hurting
When something happens once in a blue moon it doesn't mean that you should skip telling your doctor about it. Even if it's embarrassing. Dr. Dweck says that things like occasional bleeding are worthy of contacting your doctor, although notes that if it's just one time after a little rough bedroom romp, you don't need to mention it. If it's happened more than once, make an appointment. Bleeding after intercourse can be a symptom of an infection, miscarriage, or even twin implantation. Any pain during your pregnancy or beyond should not be ignored or "toughed out". No one wins if you put up with problematic symptoms that get worse with time. It's better to be safe than sorry, for you and for your baby.
13 That Not So Fresh Smell
While a lot of people give their V's a spa service to make sure everything is squeaky clean and scent free before stepping into the stirrups, they need to resist the urge. Gynecologists need to get a good idea of mom's natural scent to assess health. Canadian gynecologist Dr. Gunter warns women about using 'cleansing' products that create 'fresher' smells and says that these will upset the vagina's self-cleansing and natural pH balance. This leaves women at a greater risk for contracting an infection or STI. A sudden and significant change of smell could be a sign of an infection, which your gynecologist should be aware of. When mom is not pregnant she should note that minor changes in smell around her period is completely normal.
12 The Number Of Partners You've Had
Need testing to find out about STIs or who the real biological father is? Your doctor can help. No one needs to go onto Jerry Springer to get these answers and your doctor is your number one resource to help refer you to counseling, other resources and whatever else you might need. No one needs to pull a fast one on their practitioner or fool the system. This is because the system can't help you when you're not being completely transparent. Once you are pregnant you aren't just looking after yourself, and you also need to put your health first so you can look after your baby and lead a long and healthy life together. Remember to keep that open dialogue going after birth when you may need your doctor in terms of postpartum care.
11 Who The Baby Daddy Is
Repeat after me, "My doctor does not care about my sex life." No matter how complicated your situation is, even if you don't know who daddy is, your doctor doesn't care unless it pertains to your health. Sometimes a patient will see their gynecologist for something they think is as simple as a yeast infection, and have a shock when they learn they have an STI. Your doctor needs to know potential risks, and tests to run to make sure that baby is safe while in the uterus and from things that can be transmitted from the birth canal. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, and cytomegalovirus can be transmitted during labour when baby passes through mom's birth canal. STIs like syphilis and HIV can impact baby during pregnancy.
10 How Much You Drink
Is drinking a problem for you? Did you attend a couple of ragers before you found out you were pregnant? Any questions you have about alcohol should be discussed with your doctor. This can range from mom having trouble kicking her regular glass or two of Merlot after the end of a long day to whether or not it's okay to have a sip (or three) of champagne on your anniversary. The most important thing is to not lie about these things. Alcohol can cause side effects even when you aren't pregnant, but when mom has a baby in her belly and drinks, it can have effects including fetal alcohol syndrome. Your doctor isn't there to judge you, they're there to help. Use it.
9 Problems With Food
Body image can be a complicated thing. Even if an expecting mother who has had an eating disorder treated, she may find the changes the body experiences during pregnancy to be a lot to handle. In addition to this, telling your doctor will let them monitor you for specific symptoms and complications in pregnancy that are associated with eating disorders. Dr. Evelyn Attia notes that people need to make sure that they accurately report what they're eating to their health care provider during pregnancy. “People with anorexia may over-report what they’ve eaten while individuals with binge eating may under-report their food intake. I wouldn’t call it ‘lying’ exactly, as patients with eating disorders frequently experience shame associated with their symptoms. But it’s important to get accurate information in order to manage possible electrolyte disturbances, hormone disturbances, and other medical issues."
8 How Much You Exercise
Sometimes we manage to stick to a regular work-out regimen. Other times we don't. Many expectant mothers find that they are too exhausted to work out, and although this isn't ideal, it's worth telling your physician. Those who work out regularly will want to discuss what exercises they can do during pregnancy, particularly if they are placed on bed rest. Regular exercise can contribute to a lowering of high blood pressure and reduce risks of diabetes, all important things to consider during pregnancy. There is no reason to lie about this. If mom is putting on a lot of weight quickly during pregnancy the impact is something your doctor needs to know. They aren't your trainer at the gym. They are going to talk to you about what is best for you and baby.
7 What Medications You Are Taking
Just because you bought something from a health food store or it was located next to the toothpaste in aisle two at your local pharmacy doesn't mean that it doesn't count. Dr. Dweck wants patients to really think about what they've been taking prior to their appointments so they can give their practitioner a good idea of what they are putting into their systems and how it impacts their bodies. This is important in pregnancy and at any medical appointment. Dweck says, "A little pet peeve of mine is not knowing what supplements people are taking. You ask them about medications, and they say, 'I just take Tylenol,' and they fail to tell you that they're taking five over the counter herbal supplements things that could interfere with fertility or cause bleeding."
6 Downplaying Your Symptoms
Being tough and brave isn't being smart and can result in permanent damage to mom and baby. Medical oncologist Hamidreza Santinia says, “Sometimes patients will say that they feel fine after a treatment, but I later learn from family members that they experienced side effects. Or sometimes they’ll hide symptoms of their illness. It may be a defense mechanism to ignore the pain or they may be afraid of the truth about their condition. But it is important that patients not lie about how they’re really feeling. It can result in the wrong treatment decision being made. Some side effects may become permanent and even cause disability.” No doctor wants endless details every time morning sickness hits. Take note of important or strange symptoms to discuss at your next appointment or, in an emergency, right away.
5 What's Really Happening In The Bedroom
The model for the typical nuclear family was blown up decades ago. Just because someone is pregnant does not necessarily mean that they are in a long-term, monogamous relationship. Patients, for routine exams and prenatal ones, need to cut the crap with their medical team and let them know their number of intimate partners and how safe they play. OB/GYN Laurie Birkholz says this is, "Just so we can help a patient regarding to assessing risk – including common things like HPV, and more significant things, or more serious things like HIV. I'm always encouraging patients to be open. They maybe a little embarrassed depending on that number, but believe me, as physicians we've heard it all." Remember they don't need a play by play of your last rendezvous, but they do need to know how many players are on the field and if equipment is being consistently worn.
4 The "Smoking" Gun
In the USA alone, up to 50 percent of pregnancies are unplanned. Failure rates for birth control pills is as high as nine percent, one percent if taken perfectly. This means that mom could very well still have a solid nicotine habit prior to getting pregnant. Even if you've lied in the past about smoking, now's the time to fess up. One doctor advises "Never lie about smoking. A lot of times, if someone wants birth control and I'm deciding if it would be safe, the truth is their risk is going to change based on (smoking) – [with increased risks for] blood clot, heart attacks, stroke." In pregnancy there are a number of additional risks associated with smoking. A doctor can help support an expectant mother cut back and/or quit in a way that will be safe for her and baby.
3 "I've Never Had An STD"
Previous STI's, even when treated can come back to haunt expectant mothers. It's best to arm your medical team with the information they need to protect you and baby. So make sure your gyno knows, and perhaps remind them if they were the one who treated you many years ago. Dr. Dimino says that keeping this secret is dangerous. For example, doctors who know about previous cases of gonorrhea or chlamydia can keep a closer eye out for an ectopic pregnancy, since these STIs can scar fallopian tubes and in some cases prevent a fertilized egg from arriving at the uterus. Dimino adds, that disclosure of herpes can allow your doctor to prevent a pre-delivery reoccurrence. So don't be embarrassed. Be prepared.
2 Pretending You Don't Have Questions
If you have a burning question about that burning sensation when you pee or anything else that is bugging you or you need to know about your pregnancy - just ask it. Dr. Google never went to medical school, but your gynecologist did, so take advantage of their expertise. If you're worried you'll forget, make a list. Doctors are often short on time, so it's best to come prepared. Dr. Birkholz says, "I'm always encouraging patients to ask questions about sexuality: if they're having painful intercourse, if intercourse isn't enjoyable, or if they're thinking about using a vibrator or bringing some other item or idea into [your] sexual relationship. "I think those are also important to speak with [your doctor] about, so we can help and provide resources and education."
1 Following Prescription Directions
Don't like the side effects of something your doctor has prescribed you? It's time to practice some adulting and call them and let them know. If you aren't following the instructions and still not feeling better, or if the medication is causing worse side effects than the ailment, connect with your doctor. There may be other alternatives that will work better for you and baby. Many patients will stop taking antibiotics when they begin to feel better and this is a mistake. Talk to your doctor before switching your medications of coming off of them completely. If cost is an issue, let them know so they can help. Many doctors will happily provide access to samples or non-name brand versions of similar drugs.
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