A doctor with multiple arms waves red flags in each hand

3 Signs You Should See A New Doctor

Like most people with endometriosis, I cycled through several doctors before finding someone who addressed my condition. But I had to find a new physician every time I moved to a new city. All of my general practitioners let me know they didn't know much about endometriosis. But even my new endometriosis-familiar gynecologist couldn't tackle my chronic pelvic pain.

Since finding a physician can be frustrating, I asked a doctor for advice on finding someone new. I talked with Dr. Anna Reinert, a fellow in minimally-invasive gynecological surgery and chronic pain at Dignity Health in Phoenix. Here's what she said.

Red flag No. 1: They don't listen

If you feel like your doctor is treating the condition and not the patient, it's time to see someone new. "You should always feel like your physician is willing to listen and work with you," said Dr. Reinert.

After my endometriomas resurfaced three months after my second laparoscopy — while I was on birth control — the frustration my doctor felt was palpable during my subsequent visits. After hormonal treatment wasn't helpful for my chronic pain, our sessions became even more stressful. I no longer felt like she was listening to my actualsymptoms. It's unclear if she didn't believe me or if she didn't want to believe her treatments didn't work. Either way, she's no longer my doctor.

Red flag No. 2: The doctor runs out of answers

If your gynecologist flat out says there's nothing else they can do — which mine did, eventually — it's time to seek a second opinion or find a specialist. If any doctor rejects your symptoms outright on the first visit, don't give up. Find someone else.

"Some providers may dismiss your concerns initially — they don't have anything to offer — at that point, I would seek somebody else's care," said Dr. Reinert.

Red flag No. 3: They don't seem comfortable with your condition

This seems like a given, but if a doctor seems unfamiliar or uncomfortable with your condition or symptoms, it's a bad sign. Unfortunately, chronic pelvic pain — my main problem — isn't something that many gynecologists specialize in, said Dr. Reinert. Finding someone who is trained in fixing the problem you have will result in better care, she said. (For tips on finding a pelvic pain specialist in your area, visit the International Pelvic Pain Society's website.)

What I'll do with my next doctor

When my doctor gave up on me, she did it before suggesting anything other than hormones or surgery. She never mentioned that I try pelvic floor therapy or take a hard look at my diet. While I haven't tried pelvic floor therapy yet, changing to an anti-inflammatory, low-FODMAP diet has done wonders for my pelvic pain. And the next time I see a specialist, I plan to make sure they have treated plenty of people like me before. Hopefully, I can find someone who knows more than I do about my condition.

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