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8 health conditions you may not like talking about

…And why it’s so important to seek help anyway

Sensitive personal health issues like erectile dysfunction, constipation, and incontinence or how to manage hypertension can be difficult to talk about, even with your doctor. But it’s important to get past the awkwardness and do it anyway, as many of these conditions can be signs of more serious underlying issues – and most can be treated.

Here’s a look at some health conditions that can be difficult to discuss:

1: Erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is something many men are embarrassed to talk about – let alone seek help for.

Erectile dysfunction means struggling to get or maintain an erection firm enough to have sexual intercourse. It’s normal occasionally, but if it becomes more frequent, it can be a sign of diabetes, heart problems, or hypertension.

Once your doctor has ruled out other factors, an oral medication like Viagra or Cialis could help. These relax the muscles around the penis, increasing blood flow, and making it easier to get an erection.

2: Hair loss

Thinning hair and bald patches can be a blow to self-confidence – particularly for women.

Hair loss can be caused by aging or genetics, an underlying disorder, or certain medications. If a disease is causing your hair loss, treating it should help restore your hair as well.

Pattern or inherited hair loss is a bit different. Although some thinning is inevitable as you age, medication can help slow or stop this type of loss.

3: Premature ejaculation

Premature ejaculation is often associated with inexperience and youth, which can make it particularly embarrassing for older men to talk about.

There are a few ways to treat premature ejaculation – behavioural techniques, exercises, and use of certain condoms. If these methods don’t help, your doctor may prescribe a topical anaesthetic cream such as Lignocaine prilocaine.

4: Cold sores

If you get cold sores, you’ll know that they can come with other viral symptoms like fever and body aches. The sores themselves can appear on the inside of the mouth, the gums, and on the lips – and they can be surprisingly painful.

Most outbreaks will resolve on their own, so treating the symptoms is the goal. Your doctor may prescribe a topical anaesthetic for pain, and you can take over-the-counter medications to reduce fever.

5: Sexually transmitted diseases

Sexually transmitted diseases or infections (STDs or STIs), like HIV, hepatitis C, chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhoea, are all spread through sexual activity, which makes some people reluctant to seek diagnosis or treatment.

The good news is, many STDs and STIs are curable. Even HIV, once a death sentence, can now be managed indefinitely with medication.

6: Constipation

Constipation is common, relatively minor, but can still be embarrassing to talk about. Although everyone is different, as a general rule three days or more without a bowel movement is too long.

Simple lifestyle changes – drinking more fluids, increasing dietary fibre, and exercising more – are often enough to relieve constipation. If these changes don’t help, your doctor may recommend a gentle laxative, or send you for further testing.

7: Urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence is not just difficult for many people to talk about, it can also lead to embarrassing accidents in public.

Many women who have given birth experience incontinence, as pregnancy and childbirth can weaken the muscles around the bladder. In men, incontinence is often linked with an enlarged prostate, which can be a sign of prostate cancer.

Treatment can involve lifestyle changes, exercises, prescription medication or surgery.

8: Haemorrhoids 

Haemorrhoids, also called piles, are swollen veins in the lower rectum and anus.

Most haemorrhoids can be treated with lifestyle changes – drinking more water, eating a diet high in fibre, and doing more exercise. Topical creams can help with pain and swelling, and in severe cases, your doctor may recommend a procedure to remove them.

One solution for health issues you may find embarrassing

In most cases, there are effective treatments for all of these conditions – but many people don’t seek them, preferring to suffer in silence rather than risk anyone overhearing when they’re talking to staff at the chemist. NZ-owned and operated ZOOM Pharmacy offers an alternative: when you’re organising your prescription, get it sent to ZOOM Pharmacy. ZOOM will deliver your meds, in discreet packaging, direct to your door, so you don’t have to walk into the pharmacy.  And with ZOOM just a phone call away, you’ll always be able to talk to a pharmacist for professional care and advise, in the privacy of your own space.

You can ask your GP clinic to fax your prescription direct to ZOOM or you can Freepost it yourself. ZOOM then couriers your medicines to your chosen address within one to two working days, discretely packaged – so your meds remain private. You are kept updated via text or email, with ZOOM checking in to make sure that you don’t run low on meds. And with ZOOM liaising with your GP, repeat prescriptions happen seamlessly.

As one of their customers says, “I love that I don’t have to go to the pharmacy!”

Want to get started? Just ask your GP clinic to send your prescription to ZOOM. Find out more at