So it looks like you’re infertile? Sorry to hear that. Don’t like doctors? Tough crap! Because, let’s be real, if you’re trying to have a baby you’re likely to be seeing a lot of them! Like them or not there really is an art to talking to your doctors so they’ll listen. Knowing some tricks will smooth things out whether you are moving forward with testing or another round of treatment. Here are a few things to consider when you’re heading to your doctor. I’ve had to find a bunch of these out the hard way, I hope this makes things smoother for you!
- Come prepared: Your doctor is not a mind reader. They can only work with the information they have been provided. It’s your job to do some learning ahead of time, through the internet or books or friends, about what this fertility stuff involves. Keep track of your cycles. Monitor your body for signs of ovulation. Make note of any pain that you might experience during the cycle. Keep track of your partner’s moods and erectile capabilities. How often you are having sex… The more insight you can give your doctor the more seriously you will be taken and the easier time they will have sorting out potential problems. Bring charts. Write down every question you have at home and bring the list with you! If you read something online and it worried you pull it up on your phone so you can show them. Having everything right there means you’ll feel heard and nothing will be forgotten. Even if you have a mind like a steel trap! These appointments get intense, our emotions run wild, don’t give yourself the option to forget anything. Write it all down and bring it in with you.
- Be transparent about your symptoms: Tell them everything. PLEASE. This is not the time to be shy. Do not assume anything is ‘normal’, let the doctor be the judge of that when they have all the information. If you think your cervical mucus is weird? Tell them. If your partner can’t have sex in certain positions because it hurts? Tell them. If you suffer from pain during your cycle, around ovulation, during sex? Tell them. Describe things in detail. The doctor you see for infertility is already a gynecologist before they continue specializing in infertility! They’ve seen and heard it all. Blush and stammer your way through it if you must but, please, be transparent!
- Be your own advocate: It’s incredibly important to advocate for yourself! Patients are people who have feelings and ideas about the treatment they are receiving, don’t let those ideas stay in your head. Wondering why your RE isn’t offering you assisted hatching on your embryos during IVF? Ask. Thinking it’s time to skip another IUI and move onto IVF? Speak up. Even if you’ve only done one. Think you’re finished emotionally and need a break from cycling to get a grip on your goals and whether they are attainable? Be direct. No one knows you better than you. You need to find your voice and use it to make sure you’re getting the best quality of care possible. No one else is going to do this for you. Your doctor has other things on their plate. You do you, be a boss!
- Ensure goodness of fit: Doctors are like every other person on the planet: they come in many shapes, colours and personalities. You are not going to click with all of them. It’s just a fact! I wasted a lot of time in the early days crying over things my doctor did or didn’t do and worrying about their words to me. I was a mess. I was scared to speak up and voice the truth, I hated the doctor and was becoming emotionally overwrote by our interactions. Infertility is hard enough already, don’t add a turbulent relationship to the mess! Most clinics have a policy of how many times you can switch a physician in the practice (at my clinic they allow 2 changes). Find out what the rules are and request a change. Your doctor and you may be seeing a lot of each other, make sure that relationship works for you. And don’t beat yourself up about it! You don’t like every person you meet at a party, they don’t all like you, it happens. Move forward with a better one! This goes for clinics too! Not all are created equal. Get a second opinion. A third, or fourth! Look them up on Yelp! A good fit will benefit you in the long run.
- Take no bullshit: Know your rights. Sometimes interactions go way beyond a bad fit. If you feel like you have been taken advantage of, harassed, or forced into decisions you didn’t want to make REPORT THEM! Take no bullshit. Just because the people you are dealing with have a medical degree doesn’t make them infallible or non-corrupt. There are some seedy things that go on in the infertility community (like any business) and there are boards in place to help you deal with them. Know that your feelings are valid and that if something crazy is happening to you there is a very real possibility it has and will happen to others. Talk to the head of your clinic or to the patient safety board for your area. If it warrants it, do not hesitate to contact a lawyer.
Dealing with doctors through this process can be so stressful! The process is long and the tests are invasive; never mind that infertility is already incredibly emotionally charged! The biggest thing to remember is that you are the best expert on you. Tell the doctor everything you know about your fertility, your cycles, and your sex life. Be honest with them about what you need and what you are willing to do. Guard yourself as if you’re the precious treasure that you are! Stand up and be heard. You’re worth it. You’ll give yourself the very best chances that way.
*This piece originally appeared on Fertility Matters Canada– here- *