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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sex Basics and Sexual Health » Questions you should ask your doctor

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Author Topic: Questions you should ask your doctor
KittenGoddess
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Lately we have been recieving lots of questions dealing with how medications work, how they will effect your body, what a particular diagnosis means in term of your long term health, how this diagnosis will effect your everyday life, and many other similar topics. And, if you've been paying attention, you probably have noticed that the most common answer is to ask your doctor. Why is that? Basically we are neither physicians nor psychics. We don't have your medical records here in front of us, we don't know anything about how your body works (not everybody's body works the same way, ya know). Your doctor is the only person who is going to be able to give you an adequate answer to your specific questions about your body...the best we can offer is the general information.

When you go to the doctor, you are paying for the office visit. This means that you are free to ask as many questions as you want to. In fact, it's good to make it a policy not to even walk out of the exam room without a full understanding of any diagnosis presented and any medication prescribed. If there is any doubt or confusion in your mind about what your doctor has said, then you shouldn't be leaving the office until it's all been cleared up. And don't expect your doctor to automatically answer every question without you ever asking a one of them. A good doctor will try to give you all the information they possibly can, however they cannot anticipate what you might know or not know about the subject already. Because doctors are human too, and they see many patients everyday, they may inadvertently not give you some information that you feel you need. As a responsible patient, it's your job to ask them questions. That's what they're there for, that's what you're paying them for. Don't be shy, speak up. Ask for clarification several times if necessary. But don't leave without asking all the questions you can possibly think of to ask. Now of course sometimes there will be questions that you think of later, and that's fine, it happens to everyone. But what you don't want to do is to say no when the doctor asks if you have any questions, when you really do have them. Your doctor won't think you're stupid for asking questions, he/she will probably be impressed with how responsible you are.

I'm going to post a lists of questions you should ask your doctor during your office visits. Please feel free to pop in and add to this list if you feel like something has been left out. It might be a good idea to select the lists of questions that apply to you, print them out, and carry them with you to your doctor's appointment. That way you'll have a good baseline list to work from and you can check off your questions as they are answered. Write down any more questions you may have that pertain to your situation specifically and take the whole thing along with you.

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KittenGoddess
Scarleteen Advocate (and Labia Lady)

"The whole world is full of morons...they just congregate on the internet cause it's easy for them to push the buttons."


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KittenGoddess
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Things to take with you to your doctor's appointment:

  • Your family medical history - I keep a little card in my wallet that has the list of all the diseases within my immediate family. Most doctor's offices have a sheet that you have to fill out prior to your visit that lists these diseases. While you may think you can remember all of them, it's very handy to have them written out prior to your appointment so that you don't forget anything. Remember that it's very important for you to have the most complete list possible so that your doctor will have adequate knowledge of what you might be at risk for.

  • Your medication list - Bring along a list of both the prescription and non-prescription (this includes vitamines and herbal medications too) drugs you are taking. Make sure your list includes the name of the drug, when you are taking it (ie. once a day, twice a day, with meals, etc.), and what dosages you are taking. It's also handy to list what specific disorders/illnesses/etc. you are taking those medications to treat. If you're seeing the doctor because of an illness and have been taking over the counter pain medications or cold medications, make sure you list those too.

  • The dates of your last menstrual cycle - If you're female, then your doctor will want to know the date upon which your last period began. If you've been charting your cycles, then you can bring along this information too. Overall, just make sure you know the date of your last period and how many days your cycles typically are. (You can do this by keeping track of the day your period begins, calling that day 1, and then counting until the day your next period begins. Also, keep track of how many days of actual menstruation you experience and the day you typically ovulate, if you know that.)

  • Your insurance card and an ID card - If you have insurance and intend to use it toward the bill for your office visit, then you need to bring your card along so that the office can make a copy of it. They will also probably want to photocopy your identification, so make sure you have a drivers liscence, state ID card, or other valid form of identification handy.

  • Approximate dates of your last self exams - Your doctor may or may not ask you about this, but regardless its good information to know. Try to keep in mind when you did your last self-breast or testicular exam.

  • Dates of your last immunizations and any tests - Bring along your immunization records so that your doctor will know whether anything needs to be updated. Also, if you've recently had any blood tests, STD testing, or scan (MRI, PET, etc.). Keep in mind too that when your doctor asks if you're sexually active, that they mean any kind of sexual activity (kissing, manual sex, oral sex, anal sex, intercourse, etc.).

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KittenGoddess
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Member # 1679

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General questions to ask at any doctor's appointment:

  • Can you suggest ways I can improve my eating and exercising habits so that I can be healthier? or I have been considering _____ changes to my diet or exercise, are these safe and healthy for me?
  • I have been experiencing _____ on a regular basis, could this be a symptom of something else?
  • My family has a history of _____ disease, what does this mean in terms of my risk of developing _____? Are there things that I can do to reduce my risk factors?

Questions to ask once you've recieved a diagnosis:


  • How will this diagnosis change my daily life?
  • What does this mean in terms of my long-term health?
  • Will this increase my risk for developing other diseases/disorders? If so, which ones, and how can I reduce those risk factors?
  • Can you further explain what exactly _____ disease is? How exactly does it affect my body?

Questions to ask when you are prescribed any medication:


  • What medication options do I have? Is one medication more likely to work for me than another?
  • How exactly does this medicine work?
  • Will this interfer with any of my other medications?
  • What are the side effects of this medication? Are some more common than others? Based on what you know about my family history and my medical history, are some side effects more likely to occur for me?
  • Does this medication have any long-term health affects such as increasing the risk of cancer or some other disorder?
  • Are there any emotional side effects that can develop as a result of taking this medication?
  • How long will I have to be on this medication? How often do I have to take it? If this medication requires a gradual start-up period (ie. take 1 pill for the first 5 days, then take two pills for the next 5 days, etc.), can you write down those instructions so that I'm sure I have them?
  • Can this medication be obtained in generic form? If so, do you believe that the generic is the same quality and will produce the same level of effectiveness?
  • Does this medication need specific storage conditions? (ie. should it be refrigerated, kept out of sunlight, etc.)
  • If I miss a dose, what do I do?
  • What other actions can I take to make sure this medication is as effective as possible? Should I take this medication with meals, or before bed?
  • Do I need to take other precautions, such as staying out of direct sunlight, or not operating heavy machinary while taking this medicine?

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KittenGoddess
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 1679

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Questions for women:

  • I'm worried that my (labia, vagina, breasts, etc.) don't look normal. Based on your medical knowledge, does everything look the way it should?
  • Can you show me my cervix?
  • I've been experiencing _____ (pain, bleeding, etc.) during intercourse, can you tell me what might be causing it?
  • I've been experiencing _____ (pain, extremely heavy bleeding, etc.) during menstruation, can you tell me what might be causing this?
  • Can you show me how to do a monthly self-breast exam?
  • Do I need a mamogram?
  • The last time I did my self-breast exam, I noticed a lump. Is it still there? What should I do?
  • I've noticed _____ (bumps, pimples, warts, itching, buring, etc.) lately, could this be a symptom of something?
  • I'm having trouble inserting _____ (tampons/having intercourse/etc), can you explain to me any possible reasons for this difficulty? Is my hymen a factor? Is it intact or partially intact?
  • Based on my family and medical histories, do I have any risk factors that will make it more difficult to conceive later? Are there factors that will increase my risk of breast, cervical, uterian, or ovarian cancer?
  • Can you explain to me how my reproductive cycle works?

    Questions about birth control:

  • I'm interested in obtaining a hormonal form of birth control, can you suggest what my options are and what might be the most effective based on my lifestyle? How does this form compare to other forms?
  • How exactly does _____ form of contraception prevent pregnancy?
  • Are there any side effects of this form of contraception? Which side effects are most common? Are there any that are more likely than others based on my medical history?
  • Does this form of birth control increase my risks of diseases like cancer or heart disease? Based on my family and medical histories, will this form of birth control increase my risks for developing certain types of cancer?
  • Are there things that I need to avoid while taking this form of birth control? (ie. smoking, fatty foods, etc.)
  • What is the correct way to take/use this form of birth control? Do I need to take it at a specific time everyday? Does it need to be taken with food, or before bed? Is there a window of time in which I need to take it?
  • What do I do if I miss a pill? or Is there a specific time in my cycle in which I need to get a shot?
  • If I do miss a pill, become ill, or take a medication that interfers with this then what does this mean in terms of effectiveness?
  • What other medications am I taking (or may take in the future) that will interfer with the effectiveness of this method? What will decrease the effectiveness? If the effectiveness is decreased, how long before it is fully effective again?
  • How long before this form of contraception becomes fully effective?
  • What is the failure rate?
  • Does this offer me STD protection? If not, then what other steps do my partner and I need to take to protect ourselves?
  • How will this effect my menstrual cycle?
  • Are there any long term effects of this method of contraception?
  • You've suggested ____ product, do you feel that this is the best product for my needs at this point in my life?
  • Will I experience any side effects when I begin taking _____ ? If so, then when can I expect them to subside? If they fail to subside, what should I do?
  • If I do become pregnant while I am still on _____, will it affect my pregnancy?
  • What is the cost of this form of contraception? Is it covered under most insurance plans?
  • When I choose to stop taking _____, can I expect any adverse side effects?
  • How soon after pregnancy/birth can I begin this form of contraception again?
  • If I am having surgery, do I need to stop taking this ahead if time, if so, then how long beforehand do I need to stop, and after what interval can I begin again?
  • You've suggested I consider a diaphram, how exactly does that protect me? Does it offer STD protection? When will I need to have it refitted? What are the chances that I will experience an allergic reaction to the spermicidal jelly?
  • My partner and I would like to be as safe as possible. I'm interested in doubling-up on our protection, what methods would your suggest?
  • How exactly does conception occur?
  • If I need emergency contraception, where can I obtain it? Will I need to change the way I take my current form of birth control in order to take it? What can I expect it to do to my body and how does emergency contraception work?
  • I'm worried that I might be pregnant, how soon can I take a test? What test do you recommend using?

[This message has been edited by KittenGoddess (edited 01-22-2003).]


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KittenGoddess
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Member # 1679

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Questions for men:

  • I've noticed _____ (bumps, pimples, warts, itching, buring, etc.) lately, could this be a symptom of something?
  • I've been experiencing _____ (pain, bleeding, etc.) during intercourse, can you tell me what might be causing it?
  • On ____ I preformed my monthly self-testicular exam and I noticed _____ (lump, etc.), should I be worried?
  • I'm worried that my penis might be ______ (too short, too long, to wide, too hairy, too bent, etc.). Is this something I should be worried about?
  • What steps can I take to further protect myself and my partner from pregnancy and STD transmission?
  • I'm not sure I understand how my reproductive cycle works. Can you explain it to me?
  • I'm worried about pregnancy and STD transmission, but I don't understand exactly how those processes occur, can you explain them to me?
  • Are there any factors in my family and medical history that put me at higher risk for developing testicular cancer or other diseases? What can I do to reduce my risk?
  • Am I taking any medications or engaging in any activities that might effect my long-term fertility?
  • I've heard that ____ (taking certain medications, eating certain foods, doing certain exercises, wearing tight underwear, etc.) will ____ (make my penis smaller or larger, cause my ejaculate to taste different, etc.), is this true?
  • I've been experiencing painful urination (or noticing blood in my urine), what should I do? Is this indicating another problem?

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Aria51
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Questions to Ask if You Are Pregnant

  • When is my due date?
  • Will I have an ultrasound? How many? How often?
  • What tests do you need to run throughout the pregnancy, and when?
  • What over-the-counter medications are safe to use?
  • What over-the-counter medications should I avoid?
  • What activities should I avoid?
  • Is it safe to have intercourse?
  • Is it safe to exercise? What sort of exercise routines should I use?
  • Do I need to be on a special diet?
  • How much weight should I gain?
  • Do I need to take pre-natal vitamins?
  • What are the danger signs for pre-term labor, and when should I contact you?
  • What are considered "normal" aches and pains for pregnancy?
  • What are the signs and stages of labor? When should I go to the hospital?
  • Which birthing classes are available to me? How do I sign up for them?
  • If I need financial aid, how do I get it?
  • How often should I come in for pre-natal checkups?
  • What should be on my birth plan?
  • How can I ensure my wishes about pain control, breast/bottle feeding, circumcision, and rooming-in are honored in the hospital?
  • What are the different types of pain control options available to me, and what are the pros and cons of each one?
  • What will happen when I go into the hospital to give birth?
  • If I need to be on bed rest, what can I do to stay active and healthy?
  • I've noticed __________ change in my body. Is this normal?
  • What sort of vaginal discharge is normal, and what sort should I worry about?
  • If I am having trouble and it is not during your office hours, what should I do?

[This message has been edited by Aria51 (edited 07-19-2002).]


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KittenGoddess
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*bump*
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Gumdrop Girl
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mad props y'all, big ups! this thread is excellent!

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"In God we trust. All others must pay cash..." faw-choon kookie say.


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BeachBabe26
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This is really helpful, except, I need to get a new doctor. I ask questions everytime I go and now I am known a nuisannce in the office. Last time I was there I asked about treatment and follow ups for the procedure he did that day and he left the room. I felt really disrespected that my doctor could not answer or talk to me as a person. I believe that because I am 18 he didn't feel it necessary to have these conversations with him and that I did have the right to question his authority as a doctor.
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KittenGoddess
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Well sweetie, it sounds like it's time for you to remind your doctor and his staff that YOU are the one paying the bill. As long as you're paying for it, then you can ask questions until the cows come home if you want to. Tell your doctor if you feel he's being disrespectful or not listening to your questions. He can either straighten up and listen, or you can take your money someplace else!

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KittenGoddess
Scarleteen Advocate (and Labia Lady)

"The whole world is full of morons...they just congregate on the internet cause it's easy for them to push the buttons."


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KittenGoddess
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*bump*
Posts: 7316 | From: USA | Registered: Oct 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
KittenGoddess
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*bump*
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Daydreamer24
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Great thread! *applause*
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KittenGoddess
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I'm going to bump this again...please talk with your doctors, that's what they're around for!
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lemming
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* If you're prescribed medication, ask what form it's in (liquid, capsule, tablet) and make sure that you can take it. I just forgot to do this last week and it was a hassle after the prescription was written for a pill that was too big for me to swallow.
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