So here's the deal... most of us are caught up in a weird cycle with our doctors. We complain all year about weird things going on with our bodies, we are fed up with our birth controls, or maybe experiencing some uncomfortable symptoms, then we arrive to the doctor's office and suddenly, feet in the stirrups, say "oh yeah, everything is fine." We might mention that we've had some breakthrough bleeding and more cramps than normal, but there in that office, being stared at by photos of the 100s of babies she's helped birth and fashionably draped in a paper robe, we suddenly forget the many questions we once had. We just want to put our pants back on ASAP.
We have an average of 7 to 11 minutes face to face with our gyno each year... and let’s face it, that’s not enough time to really get the information we need, even when we are brave enough to dive in and rattle off the many symptoms we're encountering.
Our bodies are complex & unique structures, and typically, we don’t know much about what exactly goes on ~down there~ except what we learned during our abstinence only health class coverage. And of course, we can only google so much before it gets weird...
While we can’t be perfectly prepared for anything that comes our way, we can at least be a lot more prepared for those 7 minutes face to face with our gyno.
Let’s think through a few things ahead of time, and make a plan of what to ask before we get our feet above our head.
1. Take a trip down memory lane... specifically to the time right before you ever started birth control. What were your periods like?
I have many times considered going off of birth control simply because none I tried had the perfect side effects for me, and let’s face it... even after growing up in a medical family I still have my precautions around Western medicine. I have a hippy-dippy side to me that truthfully hates that I am not au natural and pure, but have to take synthetic hormones and prescription medications to even out my hormones and manage some symptoms.
When I get in those moods, I have to remind myself of all the benefits I’ve experienced through modern medicine, and the further harm it has helped me to avoid. I think back to high school when I had heavy bleeding, intense migraines, and unmanageable anxiety. Living in this state is not, in fact, the pure and free existence that I want. Think about the original reasons you started your own birth control journey. Is what you’re experiencing now better or worse, and is it worth it for you?
There is no right answer here, just the chance to make an informed decision.
2. What are my options for birth control, and what are the common side effects with each? This is where Google and your best girl friend's experiences come in to play. Educate yourself on the many options there are, and how they work as well as what kinds of experiences others have had. Keep in mind that each persons experience is unique and just because something is listed as a side effect that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to affect you.
No, WebMD is not a replacement for your real life doc, but they will never be upset with you having done your research before hand to have a more in depth conversation of what your options might be.
3. Know your health goals. It’s not enough to walk into your docs office and ask to feel ‘better.’ What does that mean to you? What are the specific symptoms you’re experiencing that you want to stop, and what would it mean for you to be satisfied with your health?
Take a moment to journal and set goals for how you’d like to feel and what you’d like to experience during your cycle. Does this mean less cramping? More energy? No bleeding? A ‘better period’ means something different for everyone.
As we enter ~adulthood~ its more important than ever to know the options we have. Some of us are still working with our same doctors we’ve been to since childhood, and some of us skip around every time we’re due for a pap. Working to find someone you can trust and have honest conversations with is key... it’s worth the investigation to find a doc you love.
Not sure where to start? Here’s my ‘adulting tip of the day’: You can try zodoc.com to find doctors within your coverage close to you, look at reviews, and even schedule an appointment. Happy investigating, and if you have more questions of how to prepare for “the talk” with your gyno... you know where to find me.
*** As a reminder, this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional care by a doctor. It does not constitute medical advice or services. Your FIRST & FOREMOST task should be to talk one on one with your doctor for concrete medical advice. It is important to have a trained and licensed medical professional walking through your health journey with you, ESPECIALLY when it comes to your hormonal and reproductive health. As an Integrative Holistic Health Coach my focus is simply educating on and supporting healthy habits and lifestyle changes so you can put your best foot forward into your health journey.