5 Lies Women Should Never Tell Their Doctor

Even some little fibs can be hazardous to your health


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Your doctor asks a question, "How much exercise do you get?" You pause, and consider your choices. Should you lie, and give an amount the doctor will applaud, or do you tell the sub-standard truth?

If you're like many of us, you probably lie to skirt the lecture on how you should be getting more exercise. But know this: every time you lie or withhold information from your physician, it is a “barrier to you getting proper healthcare,” says Dr. Donnica Moore, founder and President of DrDonnica.com, a popular women’s health website.

Putting up those barriers can jeopardize your well-being. If embarrassment is the reason you choose to fib, remind yourself that your doctor has heard it all before, and whatever you say stays confidential, Moore says.

Here are some of the top lies women tell, and why you shouldn’t hold anything back in the doctor’s office.

(This article appeared previously on Grandparents.com)

Lie No. 1: 'I finished my medication'

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One of the most common lies doctors hear is about medication compliance, says Moore. Patients who are prescribed antibiotics, particularly, will often tell their doctor they took their medication as directed, but the real answer is usually a different story, she says.

“They may not take the full 10 days or whatever it is, or they stop when they’re feeling better, or get someone else’s leftover medication and say, ‘It’s the same thing I took last time’,” says Moore. Some seniors on a fixed income may also scale back their dosage to save on out-of-pocket costs, she says.

Not only will these behaviors not treat the issue, says Moore, but not taking antibiotics as directed can also increase the likelihood of antibiotic resistance. It may also lead to you not getting better, or your doctor ordering additional, and possibly more invasive, tests.

As for other medications, not taking blood pressure medication as directed, for example, can lead to heart disease, stroke and kidney failure, according to the American Heart Association.

Lie No. 2: 'I'm not taking anything else'

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You know to tell your doctor about the prescription medications you’re taking, but you should also let the doctor know if you’re taking anything else, even if you think it’s not relevant. Products like herbal supplements and weight loss aides may interact with certain medications, so your doctor needs to know everything you take.

Many supplements interact with medications for heart and circulatory problems, according to the Mayo Clinic. Supplements such as evening primrose oil, garlic, ginkgo, ginseng and St. John’s wort can interact with the blood-thinning medication warfarin and decrease its effectiveness or increase risk of bleeding. A list of some supplements and interactions is available here.

Lie No. 3: 'Alcohol? Cigarettes? I don't touch the stuff!'

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Many patients lie to their doctors because they feel guilty or embarrassed about their “bad behaviors,” says Moore. You already know you shouldn’t smoke or drink too much, so you want to avoid the lecture. In fact, one in 10 smokers admitted to lying to their doctors about smoking in a 2013 study. But understanding the full picture of your health is essential for your doctor to treat any issues you might have.

“I’ve heard from several patients who don’t tell their doctor about certain medications and smoking because they don’t want the doctor to stop their prescription,” Moore says. However, smoking can cause health problems while taking some medications, like birth control or some heart drugs. Your doctor is not there to judge you, and being honest will help you avoid harmful side effects.

Lie No. 4: 'All's good in the bedroom'

Couple sitting on opposite sides of bed

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For women over 50, withholding information from their doctors about their sexual partners is a big concern, Moore says. Reentering the dating pool or even an extramarital affair may be embarrassing to discuss, but those can have effects on your health.

“Women over 50 don’t think they’re at risk for STDs,” Moore says. But in reality, there’s been “a dramatic rise in HPV in women over 50, and we’re seeing a spike in other STDs, too.” If there’s a new partner in your life, let your doctor know. People may lie or omit other sexual issues, like erectile dysfunction or vaginal dryness because they’re uncomfortable or embarrassed, but in reality, the doctor may really be able to help solve the issue.

Lie No. 5: 'I eat right and exercise regularly'


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Patients lie all the time about how much exercise they get. They also “will insist they’re eating properly,” says Moore. This is especially important if you have a condition like diabetes, in which the exercise and diet need to be closely monitored.

“Most people don’t understand why they can’t just increase their medication and have chocolate cake,” she says. If your physician believes the lie, that could mean them ordering more tests, increasing medication or prescribing additional medications — none of which you may really need.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevent recommends that healthy older adults get two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week (so walking, swimming or other activities five days a week, for 30 minutes at a time), and doing muscle-strengthening activities like lifting weights at least twice a week.

One More Thing to Note...

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In the last few years, opioid addictions have turned into a national health crisis. The number one thing patients lie about today is the existence of or intensity of pain, Moore says. "This is what we call drug-seeking behavior, and we always have to be careful and cautious, because many people do have legitimate chronic pain. It’s a dual challenge,” she says.


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