The Lies Women Tell Their Doctors
THE LIE: "I'm monogamous."
Cheryl, 48, went to see her gyno for what she thought was a yeast infection
— and was shocked to learn she actually had trichomoniasis, an STD. She didn't
want to admit she was juggling four guys, so when the doctor asked how many
partners she had, "I said one, of course," recalls the accountant from
Knoxville, TN. The doctor gave Cheryl enough medication for her and her
partner. But Cheryl kept seeing the other guys too. "I went back for my
checkup, and my gyno says, 'You still have this. You haven't told me the whole
truth, have you?' I said, 'Yes, I have.' She didn't want to call me a liar, but
she said, 'You have to treat everyone you're seeing, or quit seeing the ones
you don't want and treat the one you do. Otherwise, you'll never get rid of
this.'" Cheryl dumped the other guys and continued treatment with her main
man. "But afterward, I changed doctors," she admits. "I couldn't
face her anymore."
WHY YOU SHOULD COME CLEAN: Your doctor doesn't ask about your sex
life to judge your morals. What does concern her is that sleeping with more
than one person may increase your risk for STDs. Delayed STD treatment can mean
a more entrenched pelvic infection, fertility problems — even cervical cancer.
"If your gyno knows you have several partners, she may recommend you have
an annual Pap test and get screened more frequently for STDs," says
THE LIE: "I watch what I eat and exercise."
"I have patients who swear they're exercising and sticking
to the calorie count," says Bonnie Davis, an advanced registered nurse
practitioner in Largo, FL, who helps administer a weight-management program.
"Yet they've put on 5 pounds while taking an appetite suppressant three
times a day. That's impossible."
Meredith, 26, sticks with the purposely vague "sometimes" when asked
how often she exercises. "I wouldn't feel right saying 'regularly,'"
says the writer from Forest Hills, NY. "But when I say, 'Sometimes,' I
consider that I walk to the subway every day, and if I'm not wearing heels, I
walk fairly briskly." In other words, she's not lying outright — just
bending the truth enough to spare herself the inevitable lecture. "I know
that losing 10 pounds could lower my risk for heart disease and diabetes, and
diabetes does run in my family," Meredith says. "But I don't want to
hear it. I'd rather doctors think that I take it seriously than give them the
opportunity to tell me what I already know but still am not paying attention
WHY YOU SHOULD COME CLEAN: If your blood pressure and cholesterol are
high or you're borderline diabetic — all factors that can boost your risk for
cardiovascular disease — diet and exercise can help, which is why your doctor
asks about them. But if you're not really making either lifestyle change
and your numbers don't get lower, your doc may put you through a battery of
pricey medical tests and/or prescribe a range of medications to lower them for
you. And while taking a pill may sound easier than counting calories and
hitting the gym, it actually "opens up a Pandora's box of
inconvenience," says Nora Tossounian, M.D., an internist at the Women's
Health Center at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Start with
the nuisance of remembering to take medication once or twice a day; add to that
the high cost of those meds. Then there are the side effects: muscle aches on
statins; bloating, cramping, and diarrhea on diabetes medications; a plunging
sex drive with certain blood pressure drugs. The truth hurts less.