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Starting a conversation with your doctor about endometriosis can feel overwhelming. You may feel self-conscious talking about such a personal topic. If conversations with prior health care providers were not helpful or awkward, you may feel reluctant to have them now, but do not let these past experiences prevent you from talking to your doctor again. Remember that all of your symptoms, questions, and concerns are valid and deserve to be taken seriously. Talking with health care providers is easier if you think about the questions that you want to ask ahead of time and if you have clear treatment goals. Below are some tips that can help ensure you get the most out of your doctor’s visit and make the most progress towards an improved quality of life.
How to Start Your Endometriosis Conversation
One of the best things you can do to prepare for your medical appointment is familiarize yourself with factual, balanced, and trusted information about endometriosis and its treatment options. Having accurate knowledge about endo can help you ask more specific questions and help you have a better understanding of your doctor’s responses.
It’s important to think carefully about what sources to trust when you search the Internet and how to interpret what you find. Some websites may represent personal opinions of other people’s experience with endo, and may or may not be applicable to you. Although personal stories are important, it’s crucial to remember that everyone’s medical needs are different. Oftentimes when searching online, you might find that websites share different information or recommendations about similar topics. Always consult your health care provider about information you’ve found online, especially if you’re weighing treatment options, or have doubts about information’s credibility, trustworthiness, or if you encounter differing recommendations.
Discuss the Symptoms that Impact You Most and Remember to Highlight Your Most Important Treatment Goal
While many women with endo may share some common symptoms, each woman has a different experience and symptoms can vary widely from person to person. Consider which symptoms impact your quality of life most or are most concerning to you. One woman may be most worried about chronic pelvic pain or pain during sex while another woman may be most concerned about difficulty getting pregnant or gastrointestinal problems.1 If you experience pelvic pain, make sure to let your doctor know even if you are already on treatment.
You can use a symptom tracking tool such as the EndoWheel (PDF) to help you discuss your symptoms in a clearer way. A more detailed picture of your endo symptoms may help better identify your short and long-term treatment goals and can help your doctor and you determine the best treatment options to achieve these goals. The EndoWheel allows you to rank the severity and frequency of your symptoms and the impact of endometriosis on your mood and daily life. It also allows you to visually monitor or track your symptoms over time.
After you’ve shared your most concerning symptoms and treatment goals, you may want to ask your doctor about diagnosis, treatment options, and long-term management of endo. If you have tried treatments in the past, make sure to let your doctor know what you have tried previously and for how long. Take particular care to list all your medications, surgeries, and other treatments such as physical therapy, psychological, or alternative treatments. Lastly, share the names and contact information of all the health care providers who take care of you, and ask your main provider (e.g. gynecologist, primary care, etc.) to communicate your treatment plan with all your other providers (e.g. physical therapist, mental health provider, nutritionist, pain specialists, etc.).