When you’re experiencing new or chronic unexplained symptoms, your first instinct (hopefully) is to head to the doctor. After all, we’ve been taught that doctors are healers and caregivers who are dedicated to restoring and maintaining our health. With their extensive education and medical experience, what reason should you have not to trust that they will help solve your ailment?
Sometimes, however, you might go to a doctor only to have your symptoms dismissed by overarching declarations like “it’s nothing to worry about,” or “you’re just stressed.” An unfortunate truth about this situation is that women are much more likely to experience it than men. So, what can you do to get your doctor to take your pain, symptoms, and concerns seriously? Let’s take a look at a few things you should start with.
Write down your symptoms and concerns.
It’s easy to get flustered when you get to the doctor’s office and forget what you need to focus on. Keeping track of the issues you’ve been dealing with on paper or your phone will help you remember and communicate your symptoms and questions clearly and factually. It’s not a bad idea to come extra prepared having done some research on what you’re experiencing. Just don’t dive too deep and start self-diagnosing, and stick to reliable sources.
Speaking of questions—ask them! Questions about your symptoms or condition engage your provider, forcing them to think more deeply about what’s going on with your health. Their answers will, ideally, also give you more information and peace of mind. Ask your doctor to explain what they think is happening to you, what could be causing it, and how they plan to treat it. The better you understand, the more you’ll feel like you’re being heard.
Bring someone to your appointment with you.
Advocating for yourself can be hard to do, especially in a setting that can cause anxiety and with someone who is an expert in what you’re talking about. If you know you get anxious and feel intimidated when speaking with doctors, try bringing a trusted friend or family member with you to your appointments. They can ask questions for you that you discuss beforehand and encourage you to speak up for yourself.
Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself.
There’s a lot of information to go over at a doctor’s appointment. Be sure to emphasize what’s really important to you, so your doctor knows they need to prioritize and address it. Whether it’s specific symptoms, fears you’re holding, doubts about a treatment or diagnosis (or lack thereof), or another concern, repeat it however many times it takes to make them hear you. Be specific and don’t be shy in correcting your doctor if what they’re saying isn’t in line with what you’re telling them.
Consider seeking a second opinion.
If you’ve tried all of the steps above and still feel like your doctor isn’t listening to you or solving your problem, it may be best to part ways. Consider finding a new provider or asking for a referral for a specialist who deals more with your symptoms. Sometimes, just telling your doctor you’re thinking about switching out of their care can make them take you more seriously. Finding a provider who’s the right fit will make all the difference in your diagnosis and treatment.
Remember that your symptoms are real.
Doctors consistently minimizing your issues or concerns takes a toll on your mental health. But always remember, above all else, that you know your body and if you feel something isn’t right, then it’s not. Don’t let dismissive doctors gaslight you into thinking it’s all in your head. You deserve to be heard, get answers, and advocate for yourself until you get them.
Every medical professional on the team at South Avenue Women’s Services is caring, compassionate, and dedicated to doing whatever it takes to help you live a happy and healthy life.
Our women’s health providers are here to listen to your concerns, get to the root cause of your symptoms, and implement a treatment plan to solve or manage the underlying problem. Whether you’re struggling with an unplanned pregnancy, experiencing new symptoms, trying to manage a diagnosed reproductive issue, or just need to keep up with your regular wellness care, we are here to serve your needs.
Fill out our contact form today to schedule your first appointment!