Have you been putting off getting a colonoscopy because the very thought of it fills you with dread and terror? You are not alone! I personally witness so much fear around this procedure. Guess what? The fear is unnecessary. The procedure, however, can save your life. So, I’m sharing the three biggest fears about getting a colonoscopy … and why they shouldn’t prevent you from making that appointment.
But first, I’m dropping a little knowledge about the seriousness of colon cancer and why you should drop your pants to protect your health.
- It’s the No. 3 cancer killer in the U.S.
- Approximately 140,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with colon cancer every year. Over 50,000 die from it annually.
- Your risk for getting colon cancer is about 1 in 20. Certain factors further increase your risk, like age, ethnicity, lifestyle, family history, etc.
- No symptoms doesn’t mean no colon cancer. Most people don’t experience any symptoms until it’s too late. (See why that colonoscopy is crucial?) Now let’s put those fears to rest.
1. It’s going to be embarrassing!
People have been known to put off this procedure for years … all because they don’t want anyone looking at their backside. I get that. But here is what you need to understand. During a colonoscopy, your doctor is not staring at your butt. Your doctor is intently focused on the monitor that is showing what is going on internally. He or she is only concerned with identifying any potential issues that could affect your health. No one in that room is there to judge your body.
So, if you’re worried that a sketch artist – or a photographer with a zoom lens – is going to sneak into the room and capture evidence of a little cellulite (or a bad tattoo from your college years), you need not worry. No one is paying attention to your backside … only your insides.
2. It’s going to hurt!
If you’re due for your first colonoscopy, you might be having nightmares about your doctor chasing after you with a 400-foot, spiked tube. No wonder you’re scared it’s going to hurt! I promise you, the anticipation is the worst part. This procedure is not painful. I even did it without anesthesia!
And that nightmare-inducing tube? In reality, the instrument is called a colonoscope and is a thin, flexible, hollow tube with a tiny camera on the end. You will be comfortably sedated before the colonoscope is inserted, so you won’t feel a thing. Some patients experience mild bloating post-procedure, but this is nothing more than trapped gas that will naturally make its way out.
As for where that scope is going … probably not your first choice. But prevention is key, and this procedure is the gold standard for colon cancer prevention.
3. I’m afraid to get the results!
Some people, especially those who have put off getting a colonoscopy for years, are afraid of getting a bad diagnosis. The fear of being told they have colon cancer is enough to make them avoid the very procedure that can help prevent the illness in the first place. While this is a perfectly normal concern, I urge you to remember that preventative action is the best thing you can do to protect yourself! And, if there happens to be an issue, catching it as quickly as possible is your best bet for a positive outcome.
When colon cancer is detected early, the treatment options are much more favorable than those available in later stages. And let’s not forget the many lives that are saved every year because pre-cancerous growths are spotted during a colonoscopy and removed before the illness takes over.
Feeling better about getting a colonoscopy? The vast majority of people can prevent colon cancer, and this easy, painless procedure is the best way to do it. It saves lives. And it might even save yours.
Any power you have to increase your odds of living a cancer-free life is a gift that I hope you accept. Don’t let a little fear or embarrassment take that power away and increase your risk of a life-threatening diagnosis. I swear: it’s no big deal, and it will help you live a longer, healthier life. Not a bad reason to drop your pants.
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- Speak up. Ask your doctor if a colonoscopy is in your near future. Don’t be afraid to ask questions (even if you’re a little embarrassed) and advocate for yourself.
- Calm down. Nervous about an upcoming colonoscopy? You don’t need to be, butif you’re feeling on edge, calm your body and soul with some great relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga or breathing exercises.
- Become your own Health Hero. If a colonoscopy is needed, step up, schedule the procedure and feel like a real hero knowing you conquered your fear and took action to protect your health and happiness!
This easy, painless procedure saves lives. And, it might even save yours.