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Would you know what this patient’s cause of embarrassment was?

By 26 August 2018Language Tips

Do you know what a 'down below' problem means?

When saying ‘down below’ can reduce embarrassment

Patients often find it difficult to talk about conditions they feel to be embarrassing or personal. This is particularly true for conditions relating to the genitalia.

To cover their embarrassment, patients will often use euphemism (everyday words used to avoid more direct or shocking words). Down below is an example as well as ‘lady parts’ and even ‘my bits’. Euphemism is really difficult to interpret for non-native speakers so it’s worth learning a few of the most common ones.

To reduce patients’ embarrassment, it’s best to repeat their euphemism when you discuss the condition rather than to replace it with the correct medical or anatomical term. For example, if your patient said the sentence in the image above, a sensitive response would be:

How long have you had these problems down below?

Have you come across any other euphemisms at work?

Read this article from The Guardian about the need for healthcare professionals to learn euphemisms.

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