Symptoms of uterine fibroids are nagging and plentiful. They can include any combination of the following, though sometimes fibroids can remain symptomless.
- Heavy bleeding during menstruation
- Irregular bleeding
- Back pain
- Frequent urination
- Fertility issues
We applaud the many excellent doctors who listen carefully to their female patients’ reporting of symptoms and use those as clues toward an accurate investigation and diagnosis. Unfortunately however, women’s symptoms and pain are not always taken seriously by medical professionals. In fact, many women report difficulties in having their reported symptoms adequately examined, due to a known phenomenon whereby women’s symptoms, especially but not limited to pain, become classified by doctors as less significant than men’s symptoms.
How do I find a professional I can trust?
Ask local friends and family. Ask in online groups targeting issues of women’s health. Google potential candidates’ names and see what comes up. Get recommendations BEFORE a first meeting, as failed appointments can be demoralizing, and no woman has the time or energy for that!
When looking for referrals, general feedback is seldom useful. “He’s great!” or “I’ve been with her for years!” While these remarks are positive, specific issues need to be described in further detail in order to get a clear picture.
- How is this doctor’s bedside manner?
- Does she respect patients’ complaints?
- Does he make sure to remain up-to-date on emerging developments in medicine?
- Are the appointment slots long enough for patients to feel cared for?
Once you’ve pinned down the right professional, have made an appointment and are finally sitting in the examining room, part of the meeting’s outcome is still up to you, the patient.
Be sure to describe symptoms clearly and answer questions honestly. When asked specific questions about personal habits, answer truthfully. Questions may be asked concerning smoking, medications being taken or sexual activity and history. This is not the venue for embarrassment, since even the best doctor can’t be expected to be a mind reader. The gynecologist needs to know where the dots are in order to connect them. Trust is vital.
Speaking in order to be heard
For some, making ourselves understood is a challenge. Speaking to be heard is a valuable life skill, vital not only for obtaining medical expertise.
Small steps taken, such as writing down a list of concerns and bringing it into the examining room, can make a big difference.
“A recent study found that 75% of doctors believed that they communicated satisfactorily with those in their care. Only 21% of the people treated by those doctors said that their talks went well.” This means that what is obvious to one side may not necessarily be obvious to the other side. Be straightforward and don’t assume any part of your story is just common sense that anyone would figure out.
Another issue that often affects our communication with medical professionals is the lingo used. Doing a sensible amount of homework before a visit can alleviate this pitfall. Get to know basic terms that may come up, as well as which treatment options may be available. Just this small bit of information can boost a patient’s self confidence enough to truly speak up.
Even if it isn’t fibroids, symptoms such as heavy bleeding can indicate any on a laundry list of potential issues ranging from mild to alarming. Women shouldn’t avoid care for any reason and getting a proper diagnosis, toward treatment, is an absolute must.
Having trusting relationships with medical practitioners improves treatment outcomes. It is for this reason that having a relationship with a doctor you trust isn’t any kind of luxury. Finding the right doctor is a mandatory step toward the health that every woman deserves.
Women need to be heard. Having a relationship with a doctor you trust and who listens to his/her patients is vital toward proper diagnosis and treatment of any malady, fibroids included.