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Sickness and ShameAs if being sick weren't bad enough, some diseases come with a social stigma that can make sufferers hide their illness.
Colon CancerSlide 2 of 21
Colorectal cancers are very curable in the early stages, according to the National Institutes of Health. Unfortunately, colon cancer often sneaks up without symptoms, and even if symptoms do show up, patients may be embarrassed to talk about diarrhea and abnormal bowel movements with their doctors. The best way to diagnose colon cancer is early screening, including colonoscopies.
Journalist Katie Couric tackled the stigma surrounding this bowel cancer straight on in March 2000 by televising her colonoscopy. Along the way, she proved that talking about hidden diseases can help people seek medical care. According to a 2003 study in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, colonoscopy rates went up after Couric's TV special. Before the campaign, a physician could expect to conduct 15 colonoscopies a month. For 9 months after Couric's on-air procedure, that number jumped to 18 colonoscopies per physician per month.Slide 3 of 21
Erectile DysfunctionSlide 4 of 21
The stigma surrounding erectile dysfunction has lessened in recent years, thanks to hours of commercials depicting happy, wholesome couples dancing to the soundtrack of an announcer talking about pharmaceutical side effects. But it can still be tough for men to admit to sexual dysfunction. According to a 2010 review of sexual dysfunction treatments published in the journal Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice, only half of men with erectile dysfunction get treatment.
Men with erectile problems shouldn't feel alone, however. According to the same report, 10 to 20 million American men have erectile dysfunction, and by age 70, about two-thirds of men have trouble achieving or keeping an erection.Slide 5 of 21
'Manly' ProblemsSlide 6 of 21
If erectile dysfunction is surrounded by a stigma of unmanliness, some female disorders come with symptoms that challenge our cultural definitions of femininity. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, a hormone disorder that can cause infertility and diabetes, among other medical problem, is often marked by excessive facial hair. That symptom can leave women struggling to shave, wax or otherwise hide their hirsutism.
Disorders like hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, can be stigmatizing to both genders. But the disorder comes with extra baggage for women.
"You know, with women, you don't want to be someone who is sweaty," Sophia Wastler, a 36-year-old Virginia woman with hyperhidrosis, told LiveScience. "It's kind of more of a male characteristic than a female characteristic, so it's quite embarrassing."Slide 7 of 21
PsoriasisSlide 8 of 21