Making the Most of Medication *

David A. Gershaw, Ph.D.

Many people are not sure about the medications that are prescribed for them by their physicians. They take the drugs that are prescribed — but they don't know the name of the drug or what it does. This doesn't mean that you need to go to medical school, but there are certain things you need to know when you are taking medications.

Unfortunately, if the negative side effects are related to sexual, urinary or bowel functions, some patients are too embarrassed to tell their physician. This means that they either put up with the problem or quit taking the medication. Either way, they are likely to be angry with the physician. However, no physician can adequately help you, unless you provide the physician with enough information.

"Don't be a passive patient;
become involved in your own recovery.

If you have a problem and want to feel better, you will be much more successful, if you don't play the role of the "passive patient." Before you visit your physician, write down any information that you think might be related to your problem, including any life changes that might accompany your symptoms. If you don't write it down and bring your list to the office, you are likely to forget some significant facts.

Once your physician prescribes treatment and/or medication, make sure you understand what is being said. Don't be afraid to ask questions! If the advice seems unacceptable, ask for other available options. If you need written instructions, ask for them. When the instructions are clear and suitable, make sure you follow them. Any prescription that is not followed can never be effective.

* Adapted from Turner and Rubinson's Contemporary Human Sexuality, Prentice Hall, 1993, page 116.

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