Get armed… with information

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Did you know that 42% of women feel they are not treated with dignity and respect by healthcare professionals? Many women are disappointed with the lack of information they’ve received about their complaints related to heavy bleeding, and feel compelled to perform additional research independently, or identify a resource for a second opinion. Nearly 50% of women with uterine fibroids are not advised about the potential risks and complications of fibroid surgery, and many of them are not advised at all about the low-risk options of non-surgical solutions, like SPRMs.

That leaves many uterine fibroid sufferers in a half-educated, frustrated and potentially even angry state.

Some have turned to alternative (non-Western medicine) based fibroid treatment options, as they are disenchanted with the healthcare establishment and their dismissiveness. In fact, 62% of women with uterine fibroids are dissatisfied with the information they received about treatment options, and 40% needed more than 10 appointments from their general practitioner before they were referred to a specialist. Is turning to alternative treatments, like diets infused with red raspberry leaf and ginger root, acupuncture and massage, a pragmatic solution?

Unfortunately, while eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly can help and is a best practice for everyone, without the advice of a licensed medical practitioner, you may remain uninformed, or worse – led to believe that scientifically unproven solutions will trigger recovery.

What to Ask and How to Ask

You are your best advocate. Trust your gut: if you feel you have insufficient information, push.

Ask.

Demand.

It is critical to become thoroughly educated about your condition, your options, and both the short and long term side effects of any fibroid treatment you select.

If you feel you are being dismissed by your primary care physician, switch providers immediately. Instead of abandoning traditional healthcare, which offers a culmination of hundreds of years of education, research and clinical trials as well as oversight and governmental regulation, find the right doctor for you. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Check inside your community for referrals. “Your community” can mean a number of different things, especially considering you may have several different communities. Many women are involved in professional communities, and often neighborhood or hobby-based communities as well. In addition, there are resources available online for women suffering from uterine fibroids. Those are communities as well, and a referral from a trusted resource is often the best way to go.
  2. Select a physician who meets your health needs.You are seeking a practitioner who is both experienced and knowledgeable in gynecology and who specializes in the treatment of uterine fibroids. That disqualifies several gynecologists who specialize in other areas. Ensure that you are consulting with a medical professional who has the expertise you require.
  3. Do your homework.The last thing you want is to entrust your health to someone with a less than ideal reputation. Thanks to today’s technology, you can perform quick and easy research about any provider you’re considering. You can check his or her standing and licensing with regulatory boards as well as other patients’ experiences with him or her.
  4. Interview.Although it might sound strange or even intimidating to interview a doctor, that’s precisely the action you need to take. Even though your potential doctor may have the knowledge and expertise you require, does he or she take the time to explain that expertise to you in a manner that makes you comfortable? Do the clinic hours and location work for you? Is the doctor accessible to you after hours by phone? Ultimately, what you’re doing here is shopping for a provider. You are the customer, and you have the right (and responsibility!) to make informed choices.

Finding the right doctor is an important first step. Once you have done so, the next important step is to ask your doctor the right questions to make sure you have as much information as possible. While this may seem obvious, sometimes it is hard to think of guiding questions in the moment. To avoid drawing blanks, try to make a list of questions you would like to ask before your appointment. You might want to ask for specifics about what exactly fibroids are and what causes them. You should also ask about the different treatment options. What medications are available to treat UF? Are there side effects, especially if you are already taking any other medications? What surgeries or minimally invasive procedures might be appropriate to treat your UF? What is the recovery period? You should also feel free to ask financial questions about the cost of different treatments. You can also ask if the doctor or clinic has specific experience treating UF. Don’t be shy to ask how fibroids might affect your sex life after treatment. Remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question.

Empower Yourself with Knowledge

It’s true: traditional healthcare has disappointed many women. But you don’t have to be one of them. There are doctors out there who will take the time and provide the attention and dedication necessary to ensure you are properly informed about your choices. Instead of opting for alternative methods, stick  to licensed medical professionals who specialize in uterine fibroid treatment.