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Wednesday, 26 April, 2000, 00:18 GMT 01:18 UK
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Some things are too embarrassing to mention to doctor
A new website has the answers to all the questions patients are too embarrassed to ask their GP.

The Embarrassing Problems website has been put together by Dr Margaret Stearn, an Oxford doctor.

Doctors are being urged to advertise the site with posters on their waiting room walls.

Some patients are actually "dying of embarrassment", because more serious conditions, such as cancer, are not being picked up quickly enough.

Many others are enduring months of discomfort or worry before plucking up the courage to consult a doctor.

The site has more than 70 detailed sections explaining the symptoms and treatments for various ailments ranging from wind and sweaty hands to thread veins, piles and excess hairiness in women.

And of course, much of the information relates to problems of a more intimate nature which most patients are naturally reticent about.

The information is fairly comprehensive, and presented in a reassuring, and even humorous way.

For example, we learn that lice were used in a ritual to choose the Mayor of Gothenburg, a Swedish city, as it was thought that virile men were most likely to attract them.

Victorians, we are told, used to sponge their armpits with sulphuric acid to get rid of unpleasant smells.

Excess hair

Men fearing they may have too much body hair are informed that scientific studies showed members of Mensa were far more likely to be hirsute.

And pubescent boys will be reassured by research showing that half US boys were found to have somewhat overdeveloped breasts at their age.

Dr Stearn came up with the idea for helping with embarrassing problems while working in a genito-urinary medicine clinic. The information first appeared in a book.

She said: "All doctors are aware that patients are worried about talking to them about certain things - which means they won't come to them with the problem for some time.

"They think these things are going to be as embarrassing for the doctor as they are for them, when of course this is not the case."

The original book, also called Embarrassing Problems, is published by Oxford-based Health Press.

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