Facing Healthcare Professionals
Last updated: March 2021
I have a family history of endometriosis, like many individuals with endometriosis. Since my mother dealt with endometriosis herself, I at least had her support. Having the support of one person helped me deal with the challenges I would face due to healthcare professionals. Unfortunately, this is more than many women can say.
Being taken seriously
One of the most emotionally taxing elements of facing endometriosis is trying to be taken seriously. For many women, it is a struggle to find anybody to believe and support them in their personal lives. This frustration can be multiplied when medical professionals do not believe them.
I honestly do not even remember how many gynecologists I had to see in order to find somebody willing to acknowledge my symptoms and treat me. I know I saw more than ten and I was only in high school at the time. It was so infuriating to have a doctor say things like “you are just depressed” or “it is normal period pain.” These are sentiments I personally never expected a medical professional to tell me. It was very discouraging.
This kind of behavior from doctors can cause women to suffer for a long time. Due to being told nothing is wrong with them repetitively, some women give up on being diagnosed. Some studies indicate that it can take about 12 years to get diagnosed. When doctors do decide to listen to a patient’s complaints, there is another possible issue with receiving an accurate diagnosis. Endometriosis can be mistaken for other conditions. These conditions include interstitial cystitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and pelvic inflammatory disease.
Ability to choose treatments
I believe in having an active role in my treatment plans. There are several treatments available to combat endometriosis. These can include progesterone-like medications, menopause-causing medications, combined contraceptive pills, laparoscopy, and hysterectomy. These are mainly categories with various medication options under them.
I have learned the hard way that there are some doctors who prefer a set treatment plan and expect it to work on every patient. To me, this kind of doctor needs to be fired (if it is not working for the individual’s endometriosis). As patients, we should be allowed to say when it is time to try another type of treatment.
One of the treatments that individuals can utilize at some point is a hysterectomy. Of course, this treatment is a choice after the patient has tried many other options. Many women end up having to fight with doctors to choose to have a hysterectomy. I once had a doctor refuse me because I was single and without kids. Her statement was that one day I may meet somebody who wants kids and then the situation would cause problems for her. I have also known women whose husbands had to go to the doctor's office and sign paperwork.
It is important to go into a doctor's appointment with your own information or research. Also, it is a particularly good idea to write down your questions and concerns. Personally, if I do not write these things down, I will forget to ask about everything I wanted to discuss during the appointment. This will allow for any desired treatments and concerns to be addressed with the doctor.
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