'Embarrassing' symptoms cause 1 in 4 people to delay visiting GP, survey finds

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10th January 2019 13:28 - Health

'Embarrassing' symptoms cause 1 in 4 people to delay visiting GP: A survey has revealed that 25% of people have put off seeing a doctor because of feelings of embarrassment over their symptoms, meaning serious conditions are at risk of going undiagnosed.

The BUPA survey of 1,245 people found that feelings of embarrassment are causing patients to delay making a GP appointment for an average time of over two months from when they first notice symptoms.

Over half of those polled (57%) said they would not know how to begin speaking to a GP about their symptoms. Four in ten said that they would find it easier to have a phone conversation initially, while 35% admitted to turning to the internet to find out more about their symptoms rather than see their GP. For 25% of respondents, the feelings of embarrassment about discussing their symptoms were so great, they only made the appointment after their partner had encouraged them to do so.

Symptoms people find most difficult to talk about

The top condition respondents felt unable to speak about with their doctor is vaginal bleeding, followed by groin pain. These were followed by pain while urinating or blood in urine, and rectal bleeding.

The time delay in seeking medical advice for patients experiencing bowel or bladder issues is the longest with the average delay on requesting an appointment averaging nearly 10 weeks. Those experiencing vaginal bleeding would wait on average 66 days, while the appearance of a testicular lump would cause a patient to wait 62 days, according to the survey.

 Julia Ross, head of Cancer Care at Bupa UK, said:

"Fast access to treatment can help aid recovery and the long-term management of an illness. I'd always encourage people not to delay seeing a health professional if they are experiencing worrying symptoms even if you are concerned about embarrassment."

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