This week is National LGBT Health Awareness week, and in order to celebrate this week, I have decided to write an article on what you should discuss with your family practice physician to keep yourself as healthy as possible. Use these 10 tips to help ensure that you are getting the most from your appointments with doctor. This will help you live longer, healthier, and happier.

1. Be honest, don’t minimize.
It is easy to minimize symptoms or leave out details to keep yourself from having to come back to see your doctor, or keep yourself from hearing news that you do not want to hear. However, you are doing yourself a disservice if you do this. In order for your practitioner to be best equipped to handle your care, he/she needs to know the details. The more transparent the details are, the easier it is to provide an adequate diagnosis.
2. Talk about sex.
Be sure to talk about your sex-life, and be honest about your sexual activity. If you have had unsafe sex, be honest about this. Your practitioner needs to be able to screen you for potential problems related to your sexual activity.
3. Talk about substance use.
Many who use substances, especially illegal ones, minimize or omit their use when talking with their practitioners. If you use, you are at a higher risk for health problems. Your doctor has to know to be able to screen you for these issues.
4. Immunizations.
Talk with your doctor about the most up-to-date immunizations that are offered. Be sure to ask about participating in the hepatitis vaccinations if you have not already done so.
5. Ask about cancer screening.
All people should participate in cancer screenings at various stages in their lives. Men need to be screened for prostate and testicular cancer. Women need to watch for breast cancer. Both need to be screened for colon cancer. No one wants to deal with potentially facing an early diagnosis of cancer, but your alternative of a late-stage cancer is much worse.
5. Talk about HIV screening.
Anyone who is sexually active should be screened for HIV. Talk with your doctor about your need to be screened.
6. Discuss your weight.
Talk to your doctor about your weight and diet. Ask whether or not your diet is helping you stay at a healthy weight. Ask if you should meet with a dietician or nutritionist and to help you establish and participate in an exercise program.
7. Talk from the heart.
Or rather you should talk about your heart. Discuss your cholesterol levels, your blood pressure, and your stroke and heart attack risk. Ask if there is a need to see a specialist.
8. Tobacco Use.
Tobacco increases your risk for health problems. Cancer, COPD, Heart Disease, Emphysema, etc. Talk to your provider about quitting. There are more ways to quit now than ever before.
9. Mood Problems and Sleep.
If you have been dealing with mood problems or sleep disturbances, ask your physician for a referral to someone who can help. Be open about how severe these problems are for you.
10. Talk about your toileting habits.
People tend to be shy about their toileting habits, but this information can give your practitioner a great deal of insight into your overall health,  as well as your diet. Talk about frequency, pain, difficulties with urination, constipation, etc.

Meeting with your physician is not likely one of the most popular things to do on your agenda. The more open you can be about your health, the more you will get from these visits. This will hopefully result in you having to spend less time with your doctor or other specialists in the future.

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