pride battle | 

Dr Pixie McKenna says men talking to a doctor is still a ‘taboo’

Dr Pixie McKenna’s mission is to get people with health concerns to see a GP, writes Maeve McTaggart

Dr Pixie urges nervous patients to leave their shyness at the door

Sunday World

Cork-born GP Dr Pixie McKenna has seen it all, following her time as a presenter on the Channel 4 show, Embarrassing Bodies, and is on a mission to get people back into doctors’ waiting rooms before it’s too late.

Dr Pixie first hit screens in 2007, tasked with travelling around the UK to visit people too mortified to reveal their medical issues, warts and all.

The celebrity doctor says people often approach her with their own ‘embarrassing’ medical concerns.

“Whether you’re on or off the telly, if you’re a doctor, you’re fair game,” she says.

“Wherever you are, whether it is at a dinner party or standing watching a match, people will always use the opportunity.

"I don’t mind. It’s only when people start showing you things in public that things get a bit awkward.”

The main culprits of dodging doctors are men, she says, who very often pride themselves on never going to the doctor or feel like they’re ‘bothering’ their doctor.

It’s a taboo she is eager to smash.

“They’ll come in and they’ll say, ‘Oh, yeah, I’ve a really sore neck, blah, blah, blah’,” Dr Pixie explains.

“And then they stand up to go, put their hand on the door and say, ‘Oh, and by the way, I’ve got a lump on my testicles’.”

GP Pixie McKenna. Photo: Andres Poveda

“People put things off and off because they’re afraid,” Dr Pixie explains. To them, she says: “Just spit it out.”

“As doctors we’re not making terrible diagnoses every day. Every patient we see, most of the time we’re reassuring people.

"That’s a huge part of the job as GP. You need to reassure people that actually, you know, this is something that you don’t need to worry about.

“It’s better to sort it out rather than wait months and months and worry that something terrible will happen,” she urges.

On getting yourself into the doctor’s office, her advice is to prepare like you’re going for a job interview.

She says: “If you’re having a problem, and it’s your bottom end or your genitals, don’t expect to go in and not be examined.

“Remember that your doctor is a human being who goes to the toilet and does all the things you do — and maybe some things that you don’t even do — and they’ve seen it all before.

"You know, it’s just looking up one more orifice for them or dealing with one more subject that maybe makes you blush, but really for them, it’s just another business day.”

For those still unconvinced, Dr Pixie suggests writing everything down and handing the list to your GP to say, ‘This is why I’m here.’

The TV star is now championing a campaign against glaucoma, the leading cause of irreversible blindness — recently launching Specsavers’ The State of Ireland’s Eye Health Report 2022 to raise awareness of the disease she calls the “sight stealer”.

“It’s a ticking time bomb and therefore, you need to know about it as soon as possible,” she says. “The symptoms are subtle. It’s not one of these diseases that screams and shouts.”

For more on the report see specsavers.ie


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