Embarrassing bodies...this doctor’s seen it all before

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In his latest column Westside Surgery doctor Simon Lowe tells readers not to be embarrassed by their bodies...

I HAVE lost a lot of weight recently but not yet got round to buying new clothes to take account of my new shape.

This will change this weekend following a rather unfortunate wardrobe malfunction the other day.

While I was talking to my friend in his kitchen I noticed a sudden slippage in the trouser department and before I could respond my waistband was around my knees and my boxers were on full view.

I thought I was going to die of embarrassment. Of course, for me, this is just a phrase to use, I was never in any mortal danger at all, but unfortunately every year people do literally die as the result of embarrassment.

How does this happen? Well, there are some things that people just feel uncomfortable seeing the doctor about.

This can stop people coming to talk about problems that they have, or attending to have examinations that can spot problems long before they cause any trouble.

All health professionals realise that its difficult to talk about personal and intimate issues, such as bowels, breasts and private parts – we often find it difficult ourselves when we have health problems - but we are all trained to take these things in our stride, show respect and help make you feel as comfortable as possible talking about the problems.

The recent adverts on the television about problems with bowels and poo are a very good example of this.

The advert says ‘I don’t mind how you tell me – just tell me’ and that holds very true.

Don’t worry about the words you use to tell us, there is very little we have not heard before and nobody is going to be shocked by the use of good old fashioned English phrases, or laugh at your own personal names for bits of the body or bodily functions.

People can also be very shy about being examined. This may stop them from coming for help.

Again, we know that this is often a problem and we take great effort to reassure you, respect your dignity and put you at ease.

Rest assured that we see bits and bobs in all shapes and sizes, and realise that very few of us are anywhere near looking like the beautiful bodies that we see on the telly and in magazines (I know for sure I am a long way short of a six-pack).

We will always maintain a very professional approach to examining you, especially your more tender areas, and will never judge you or your body.

It may be helpful to realise that for us doctors there is no difference between looking in your ear or up your bottom.

Many of the issues that people find most embarrassing are also those that can have most done to help - if only we see things early enough.

As a town Boston seems to have more embarrassing problems that do not get treated than the rest of Lincolnshire.

For example, nearly a third of Boston ladies over the age of 25 do not attend for their smear tests and four in 10 people do not accept the offer of screening for bowel cancer.

Both of these procedures test for conditions that can be treated much more easily and successfully if found early enough but may become very serious or incurable if ignored.

While it can be very frightening to think about having an abnormal result after medical tests, especially ones for cancer, it is much worse to ignore the issue and let things go too long before asking for help.

Not having the test done will not make the problem go away – it will just mean that it is bigger when it is found.

So next time you are worried about a problem that makes you blush, or you are invited to have an intimate check up, please think hard before ignoring things – we doctors are there to make sure that you do not die of embarrassment.