From erectile dysfunction to constipation – 10 conditions Brits are too embarrassed to see their docs about – The Sun

WE'VE all got things we'd rather not share in public – but there are some you definitely should be telling you doctor about.

Research has found one in 10 of us are suffering from conditions we're just too embarrassed to seek medical help for.

More than 20 million Brits are putting themselves at risk by leaving health complaints untreated, according to Pharmacy2U.

Among the conditions people reported being embarrassed about included erectile dysfunction, vaginal discharge, incontinence and depression.

Thrush, fungal nail infections and acne were found to cause heightened self-consciousness during summer in particular.

Their research also revealed that 39 per cent of us have suffered from a condition for far longer than needed to avoid discomfort of talking about it.

While one in 10 say they are currently suffering from something they are reluctant to get help for.

Discussing reasons why people are often too shy to get help, behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings said: “Medical embarrassment has two distinct factors – self-consciousness at the condition and concern at being judged.

"It’s important to understand that medical professionals will have seen all these ‘stigma’ conditions many times before, and they are also trained to be completely impartial and totally confidential."

It’s important to understand that medical professionals will have seen all these ‘stigma’ conditions many times before

She added: "We are perhaps most embarrassed by those conditions that involve personal hygiene like body odour or bad breath, or concerns ‘down there’ like erectile dysfunction, vaginal discharge or thrush.

"However, while many of these conditions are easily and swiftly treated, it can feel awkward both to visit your GP in the first instance and to collect prescriptions from your local pharmacy.”

Dr Nitin Shori, a GP with the NHS and Pharmacy2U, said: “It’s understandable that many Brits may find it daunting to speak to their GP or pharmacist about health conditions they feel are embarrassing.

"However, it’s always worth bearing in mind that medical professionals are first and foremost there to help you and leaving an illness or condition untreated can lead to further complications.

"If you have difficulty speaking to your GP or pharmacist, consider writing down your symptoms ahead of your appointment.

"This will allow you to be clear and direct in your needs while avoiding any potential awkwardness. There is no one ‘right way’ to seek treatment, so find what works best for you.”

Here Dr Shori reveals the 10 conditions Brits are most embarrassed about and how they can be treated…

1. Erectile dysfunction

Most common in men over 40, the occasional episode of impotence is usually not a cause for concern although it can, understandably, feel worrisome in the moment.

The most common causes include stress, anxiety, fatigue, alcohol, or as a side effect of medication.

If it is an recurring problem, however, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue such as diabetes, low male hormone or thickening of the blood vessels.

It would be a good idea to your GP or if embarrassed, to consult a GP online.

Treatment ranges from lifestyle changes to medication like Viagra.

2. Vaginal discharge

Discharge is a normal occurrence and nothing to be concerned about, with most women experiencing it.

The amount and texture can vary dependent on sexual activity, pregnancy, or the onset of your period.

If you notice a change in your discharge (smell, colour, pain or sores), book an appointment with the GP or sexual health clinic.

3. Incontinence

Incontinence is a common problem believed to affect millions of people.

Treatment is dependent on symptom severity and the type of incontinence experienced (urge, overflow, stress, or total).

Lifestyle changes such as a reduction in caffeine intake and weight loss in addition to pelvic floor exercises are the most common treatment methods, however medication and surgical options exist in more serious cases.

Speak to your GP to find the right solution for you.

4. Depression

Those with a family history of depression are more likely to experience it, but it is a common condition affecting about 1 in 10.

Dependent on the severity, treatment for depression can range from exercise, talking therapies, antidepressants, or a combination approach.

There are many different types of antidepressants and side effects will vary from patient to patient, but common side effects can include indigestion, loss of appetite, low sex drive, insomnia, and/or weight gain.

Many people will avoid speaking to a doctor about depression because they believe it will pass or it isn’t a “real” problem, but always seek out help if you think you might be depressed.

5. Body odour

Can be caused by hormonal changes, excessive sweating, certain types of medication, or conditions like diabetes and kidney or liver diseases.

Body odour can be treated with antiperspirants and deodorants, regular laundering of clothing, and thorough washing with soap and water.

However, in severe cases of excessive sweating, options include prescription strength antiperspirants, surgery to remove sweat glands, and injections in the armpit to reduce sweat.

6. Haemorrhoids

Also known as piles, haemorrhoids are small lumps in and around your bottom caused by swollen blood vessels.

The most common cause is constipation (and straining too hard when pooing), with symptoms presenting as bright red blood after a poo, pain and/or lumps around the anus, and localised itchiness.

Your pharmacist can advise on creams to ease pain and itching and treatments for constipation.

Discomfort can be alleviated with cold packs and ibuprofen, but see your GP if there is no improvement after seven days of self-treatment.

7. Anxiety

A generalised anxiety disorder can cause both physical and psychological symptoms, ranging from feeling restless or worried, to heart palpitations, to trouble concentrating or sleeping, to dizziness.

Although women are more affected than men, up to 5 per cent of the population are estimated to have the condition.

Many treatment options are available and include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as well as antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

8. Bad breath

Smelly breath is also known as halitosis.

The most common solution for bad breath is improved dental hygiene habits – regular brushing and flossing – which will clear out bacteria in the mouth from leftover food particles.

However, in some cases bad breath can indicate more serious issues ranging from an infection to some types of cancer.

If you are concerned or do not see an improvement after a few weeks, visit your dentist.

9. Thrush

A common yeast infection that can affect both men and women in the genitals, armpits, and skin between the fingers.

Treatment takes the form of antifungal medicine (either a pill or cream) and generally symptoms will clear up within a week.

Although not classified as a sexually transmitted infection, it’s advised patients visit a sexual health clinic if it’s the first time they’ve experienced symptoms, if it’s recurring (more than twice in 6 months), or if they’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

10. Constipation

There are many causes of constipation in adults, but some of the most common ones include not enough fibre in your diet, not drinking enough fluids, stress and anxiety, or a side effect of medication.

Simple changes to your diet and lifestyle can alleviate constipation, as well as an improved toilet routine (consider raising your feet or resting them on a low stool when trying to pass a movement and never delay visiting the bathroom if you feel the need to go) however, if you don’t see an improvement your pharmacist or GP can suggest a suitable laxative.

Laxatives tend to work within three days and should only ever be used for the recommended amount of time on the label.

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