If you tell a doctor that you have headache, and he simply gives you paracetamol without further questioning, check again, he might not be a real doctor. A properly trained doctor will “clerk” you, asking you numerous questions that may appear totally irrelevant to your symptom (the questions get fewer with years of experience though!). An inflammation in your knee can give you a headache. An abdominal disease can give you pain at the tip of your shoulder. You need to always remember that there are intricate interrelationships within your body organs.

A very important part of our “clerking” is called the family and social history, where we ask you not-so-medical questions. However awkward it may sound, we have to ask, and you have to answer, sincerely. We must never assume that a woman is pregnant for her husband. She may not be married yet. She may have done IVF with spermatozoa from a sperm bank. She may have been raped… All these have direct or indirect effects on her health and on the outcome of the pregnancy.

We also ask whether you drink and/or smoke. As a rule, all adults must be asked. Alcohol ingestion and cigarette smoking rank very high among the causes of almost every chronic disease existing today. I once made the mistake of skipping that part when I was clerking a woman who came to complain about infertility. But later in our discussion she volunteered the information. Surprisingly, she was a heavy smoker (up to 20 cigarettes per day). Quitting alone could have restored her fertility…

So, dear friends, next time you visit a doctor, don’t hesitate to let him take your full history and examine you thoroughly. If you don’t feel comfortable, ask for a chaperone. At the end of the day, we don’t save lives, God does.


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