A lot of people avoid going to the doctor because they don’t want to hear the same spiel about their weight every time. Getting periodic check ups even if you don’t need them immediately can help you build a relationship with the doctor and overcome your embarrassment, especially about weight.
Some time ago, I went for my annual health check up sponsored by my office. While everything else was in order, I was diagnosed with PCOS. I did not have any symptoms, my periods were regular but I was getting acne lately and had gained some weight. The obvious next step would be to see a gynecologist. However, I avoided it for months, thinking I will see a doctor once I lose some weight. Since I did not have any other symptoms, I assumed the doctor would tell me to shed a few kilos.
Has this ever happened to you? That you have high blood pressure or acne, stress, a cavity, a sore, or bad eyesight and you have avoided a doctor’s appointment. You are not alone. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be for something you think you might have; if you ask people about their last doctor’s appointment, most won’t remember it. There are many reasons that people avoid medical appointments: ranging from money, fear, laziness, or a feeling that the problem will go away on its own.
A study done in the U.S. which analysed why people don’t seek medical care noted that embarrassment was a major cause. And, embarrassment about weight was one of the concerns. The study noted that people did not like being told to lose weight or to “Always have to hear about how fat I am”. Medical examinations often include taking your weight, something that a lot of people feel uncomfortable with.
A study done in the U.S. which analysed why people don’t seek medical care noted that embarrassment was a major cause. And, embarrassment about weight was one of the concerns. The study noted that people did not like being told to lose weight or to “Always have to hear about how fat I am”.
How to overcome your fear about doctor’s appointment
While all these reasons are understandable, avoiding a doctor’s appointment is not the smartest thing to do. Here’s how you can overcome this fear:
1. Find a doctor that makes you feel comfortable
If a doctor has made you feel uncomfortable about your weight in the past, you can always see another doctor. Ask your friends for recommendations or you can go online and find one with good reviews. Sometimes, getting weighed is not even necessary, doctors will do it as a part of a routine checkup. You can ask your doctor to not weigh you if you are going in for something which is completely unrelated to your weight.
2. Don’t delay your appointment because of weight issues
Sometimes, it may be necessary for the doctor to know your weight especially if you have high blood pressure or PCOS. But embarrassment about your weight shouldn’t make you delay your appointment. In some cases, the doctor will need to know your weight so that they are able to prescribe the right dosage for you. Avoiding the doctor will just mean exacerbating the issue or risking further complications.
3. Schedule a periodic examination
Schedule a periodic examination even if you are not sick. Preventive care is not something we take cognisance of, especially if we are young and generally healthy. But it can help in preventing health problems, as well as in building a relationship with the doctor. If you know the doctor, they will not just be aware of your medical history, but also your unique needs. It is less embarrassing to go to a doctor you already know and who understands your concerns about weight and any other issues.
A periodic examination can also help you in the early detection and prevention of various diseases. Take breast cancer for example. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says early diagnosis and screening (mammography, clinical breast exam and self-exam) are critical for prevention and treatment of breast cancer.
“The age of cancer has actually moved. Earlier, we used to think that after 40 or 50 is when someone can get cancer. But, now gradually the age has come down to 30. Now we say that even after 30, you should make it a routine to go to your doctor at least once a year and get an ultrasound of our breasts,” says Delhi-based laproscopic surgeon Dr. Usha Maheshwari.
Doctors recommend that women should regularly get a gynaecologist consultation and a checkup. “You should definitely get a breast evaluation, a pap smear, and an ultrasound. And, if you have family history you should get your diabetes and lipid checked. You should also get calcium and Vitamin D, and micronutrient supplements if you are not taking the proper diet. But if you are taking a proper diet then it is not needed,” says gynaecologist Dr. Anuradha Sharma.
4. Book an online appointment
Another thing you can do is also to set up an online appointment, email or call the doctor before you visit them at the hospital. This is a good opportunity to build a relationship with the doctor and tell them about your concerns in advance. A lot of doctors now do online consultations, and it is possible that you may not even need to make a visit. Even if you do, they are already aware of your problem and it can make the hospital visit a lot more comfortable.
In all of this, remember that your health is of utmost importance, and the doctor is there for advice and helping you prevent any medical complications. Seeing doctors more regularly even if you don’t need them immediately can help you overcome your embarrassment, especially about weight.
- Why do People Avoid Medical Care? A Qualitative Study Using National Data. Jennifer M. Taber, Ph.D., Bryan Leyva, B.A, and Alexander Persoskie, Ph.D.
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