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Candid Talk With Your Doctor

Honesty is always the best policy, especially when talking with your doctor. But some patients aren't always up-front with their physicians.

The failure to be completely open could jeopardize your health.

The Saturday Early Show's Dr. Mallika Marshall emphasized the importance of telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth when you're in the examining room.

Marshall says there are many reasons why patients aren't always completely open with their physicians. She explains some people think of their doctors as judges and don't want to say anything that will disappoint them. Patients are also sometimes afraid the doctor will tell them something they don't want to hear.

But the point is, Marshall says, if you aren't honest with your doctor, you are not going to get the treatment that you need.

Marshall offers some tips when at the physician's office:

Don't be shy about your body
Many patients are very shy about exposing themselves or discussing their body during an examination, especially the areas that are often referred to as "private regions" such as the breasts and pelvic regions. But there is no reason to be embarrassed. Doctors are used to dealing with patients of all different body types and aren't going to pass judgment on you.

It is also very important to discuss any digestive problems you may have. Marshall says for some reason when it comes to bodily functions, people clam up. But we have all had digestive disruptions in the past and just because you find them distasteful, your doctor certainly will not.

Discuss mental health issues
In this country, there is still some stigma surrounding mental health. But, Marshall says, mental illness is nothing to be embarrassed about. If you don't take care of your mental health, there is a very good chance that your physical health will suffer as well. And remember, there are now many medications to treat mental illnesses.

Admit Your Vices
Nobody is perfect. People may occasionally drink too much, sneak a cigarette or eat too much. As hard as it is to admit your weaknesses, it's important to discuss them with your doctor. Again, Marshall says the doctor isn't going to judge you. Remember, for example, that even a little bit of alcohol can have an adverse effect on any medications you may be taking and cigarettes can raise the risk of stroke in women on certain birth control pills. There are also health risks from eating too much, so 'fess up !

Discuss medications and supplements
Many people take herbal supplements today without talking to their doctor. They may read about them on the Internet or read about them in a magazine. However, there is very little definitive information on the safety of these products and they can end up doing some real damage. Marshall warns against self-medicating, even with herbs and other over-the-counter drugs.

Also, if you are prescribed medicines from different physicians, you need to be sure to that all your doctors are on the same page. Medications can counteract each other and can cause serious harm.

Be candid about your sex life
Don't be afraid to discuss your sex life with your physician. It's nothing the doctor hasn't heard before. If you experience pain during intercourse, it's something you need to talk about. Also, if you've contracted a sexually transmitted disease or think you have, this is also something to discuss. Your doctor wants to help you, not pass judgment on you.

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