Conquering The Uncomfortable - Tips For Tackling Uncomfortable Appointments

General Medical

Dr Kieran Kennedy

We all know the feeling of working up the courage to step into that appointment we might just rather have stayed at home for. Whether it’s a chat around mental health, a sexual health check, discussions around bowel cancer, or cervical screening, there are absolutely some conversations, check ups and tests we all, even if ever so slightly, might dread.  

The crux here though is that it’s (Murphy’s Law, I hear you) all too often these very check ups that represent some of the most important on our health calendar. And so, as we move into June and Bowel Cancer Month, International Men’s Mental Health Week (June 12th - 18th) and World Blood Donor Day (June 14th) it’s so vital to know you’re not alone in finding some things to do with staying on top our health a touch, well, toe curling. Thankfully we’re not alone too when it comes to so tips to make things a little, if ever so slightly, easier.  

Acknowledge It 

Discussions around mental health, getting bowel symptoms checked, a prostate exam, a blood test. The list could go on with check ups that are understandably uncomfortable. It’s all too often these that we tend to avoid - and it’s so key here to acknowledge that that’s normal. Psychologically, we often let anxiety, embarrassment or fear of pain express itself as avoidance, or an “ah I don’t really need it checked” attitude. And whilst there’s absolutely no shame in that, acknowledging that we might actually be a bit scared or worried about something is the antidote to getting ourselves in there. 

Timing Talk 

For concerns or appointments that might come with a few nerves, some intimate area checks, emotion or pain, it’s important to ease any sense of having to rush things. Booking a double appointment or requesting a longer appointment with your GP or specialist can thus be a great way to give things more room for a proper chat, to slow things down and manage any discomfort.  


Within my work in general medicine and now psychiatry, I always value having partners, family members and even friends come along to support patients if it makes things easier. Know that it’s always within your rights to ask for a support person to attend check ups or tests with you, and for hard conversations, worrying signs or uncomfortable procedures this can go a long way to helping back you up to get through.  

Curbing Dr Google  

For a lot of our health related worries and check ups, feeling informed and coming prepared is important. Something I’ve found often not so helpful however is letting our friend ‘Dr Google’ (or Dr Instagram) jump us to worst case conclusions or offer up info that’s less than evidence based. Fear around what symptoms might mean or how tests might feel can often, falsely, worry us more and draw us away from getting help. It’s important to feel informed, but always seek out information from your doctor and let them guide you to information that’s going to help, not harm.  


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