Talking About The Embarrassing Stuff – How to Talk to Your Doctor About MS Without Blushing

Donna Sullivan
Written by
Donna Sullivan

Is your physician attractive? Intimidating? Or always in a hurry? I ask this question because the relationship that you have with your doctor is an important factor in how effectively you are able to manage your MS. Are you comfortable talking with him/her about anything? How the disease is impacting your body and mind, or do you sometimes feel too embarrassed to discuss some of the less than glamorous symptoms that you might be experiencing?

Let’s face it; all MS symptoms are not created equal. Some can be frightening; others disabling and then there are those that are just downright embarrassing! Bladder dysfunction and leakage does not make one feel fabulous - especially as you are running for a toilet, or even worse, not quite making it there. Trying to explain to your partner that it is not them, it’s your MS causing erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness or pain during intimacy can certainly feel humiliating. Constipation is not sexy, nor are the many other manifestations of MS that can wreak havoc on your body, dilute your confidence and really impact your sense of self.

But they don’t always have to. Many MS symptoms can be managed, but that means you have to be comfortable talking about them. So how do you own them, loudly and proudly?

Laughter is the Best Medicine

It’s a great way to diffuse embarrassment. Learning to laugh at yourself comes easy to some, not so much to others. However, having a sense of humor can definitely help. “The MS gods decided to throw me a ridiculous curveball…”

Separate Yourself from Your MS Symptom

Sometimes talking about the symptom in a non-attached way can make it easier. This can be especially effective if you are concerned about some of the cognitive symptoms of MS. “I read that sometimes MS can bring on memory loss and even depression. I think that is happening to me.“

Write Your MS Symptoms Down

You want to maximize the time you have with your doctor. If you think you are going to have trouble talking about your issues, put together a list and hand it to your physician.

It’s Not Just You

While these symptoms may be new and troublesome for you, there is probably not much you can tell your doctor that they haven’t already heard before. You are not alone.

80% of people with MS experience some bladder dysfunction

68% of people with MS experience bowel dysfunction

91% of men and 72% of women reported they may be affected by sexual problems

Keep in mind that medical school prepares physicians to deal with the human body: the good, the bad and the ugly!

It Will Get Easier

Over time, the more you talk about the issues, the easier it will get. (I have often noticed how freely my grandmother and other elderly people seem to vent all their intimate ailments, definitely TMI, without any shame! Time must make it easier, right?)

What’s most important is that you express your needs, so that you can get the help you deserve. If you find that you are not comfortable having these discussions with your doctor, then perhaps you need to consider finding a provider that you ARE comfortable with. After all, this is one relationship where good communication could directly impact your quality of life. So what’s a little blushing in the doctor’s office – do you REALLY think he/she is passing judgment on you anyways?

How comfortable are you talking about the more embarrassing or intimate symptoms of MS? Share on our Facebook page.

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