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One in 10 Brits suffering from conditions they are too embarrassed to seek medical help for 

– Erectile dysfunction and depression amongst “most embarrassing” conditions –

Over 20 million Brits could be putting themselves at risk by leaving conditions untreated due to the ’embarrassment factor’ when collecting certain medicines.

Research we conducted, revealed that some of the conditions people are most embarrassed about include erectile dysfunction, vaginal discharge, incontinence and depression. Thrush, fungal nail infections and acne were found to cause heightened self-consciousness during summer in particular.

One in six (16 per cent) millennials suffering from an ‘embarrassing’ condition admitted to not collecting medication from the pharmacy because they were too embarrassed to ask face-to-face.  Over one in four UK (26 per cent) adults say they have self-diagnosed online rather than approach a medical professional, with one in 10 (9 per cent) saying they turned to online delivery of medication as a “solution”. 

Top reasons Brits feel red-faced about certain ‘stigma’ conditions include feeling ashamed (38 per cent), feeling upset to say out loud (32 per cent), not wanting to confront the condition (31 per cent) and fear of someone they know seeing or overhearing (18 per cent). Nearly one in 10 (9 per cent) admit to wasting time in the chemist or pharmacy to avoid a queue and any awkwardness.

It’s not just collecting medication that Brits are blushing over, two in five (39 per cent) say they have suffered from a condition for far longer than needed to avoid the discomfort of talking about their condition. One in 10 Brits (12 per cent) admit they are currently suffering from something they are reluctant to seek medical help for.

This summer it is expected that untreated “embarrassing conditions” will cause one in 10 (11 per cent) blushing British women to cancel their social plans, and 12 per cent will refuse to be intimate due to an untreated condition.

Jo Hemmings, Behavioural Psychologist says: “Medical embarrassment has two distinct factors – self-consciousness at the condition and concern at being judged. It’s important to understand that medical professionals will have seen all these ‘stigma’ conditions many times before, and they are also trained to be completely impartial and totally confidential.

We are perhaps most embarrassed by those conditions that involve personal hygiene like body odour or bad breath, or concerns ‘down there’ like erectile dysfunction, vaginal discharge or thrush. However, while many of these conditions are easily and swiftly treated, it can feel awkward both to visit your GP in the first instance and to collect prescriptions from your local pharmacy.”

“Your privacy, as well as your health, is of utmost importance to a medical professional. Whatever your condition, nurses and doctors will be familiar with it, will show no judgement and will welcome your courage in deal with it while at an early stage and before it has a chance to impede your personal or social life or affect your mental health, with ongoing anxiety and stress about it.

If visiting your local pharmacy is a concern, perhaps because you know your pharmacist well or you feel you may bump into someone you know, consider using an NHS supported online pharmacy, where your medications can be delivered straight to your door.”

Dr Nitin Shori, a GP with the NHS and Pharmacy2U commented: “It’s understandable that many Brits may find it daunting to speak to their GP or pharmacist about health conditions they feel are embarrassing. However, it’s always worth bearing in mind that medical professionals are first and foremost there to help you and leaving an illness or condition untreated can lead to further complications.

If you have difficulty speaking to your GP or pharmacist, consider writing down your symptoms ahead of your appointment. This will allow you to be clear and direct in your needs while avoiding any potential awkwardness. There is no one ‘right way’ to seek treatment, so find what works best for you.”

The ten conditions that people struggle to discuss:

  1. Erectile Dysfunction
  2. Vaginal Discharge
  3. Incontinence
  4. Depression
  5. Body Odour
  6. Haemorrhoids
  7. Anxiety
  8. Bad Breath
  9. Thrush
  10. Constipation

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