How to Talk to Your Doctor About Endometriosis

When your periods are always heavy and very painful, you’ll want to see your doctor to find out why it keeps happening. A condition called endometriosis may be to blame. Or it might be something else.

To find out, you may visit your regular doctor first. Or you could see your gynecologist, who specializes in the health of your ovaries, uterus, and other parts of your female reproductive system.

To make the most of your appointment, it helps if you do a bit of homework and prepare beforehand.

If your doctor has already told you that you have endometriosis, read up on it. Get to know what the treatments may be. That way, you’ll be ready when you see your doctor.

Jot Down Your Questions

What are the most important things to understand about your condition and treatment? Take a written list of questions for your doctor so you won’t forget. 

Some things you may want to ask:

  • What’s causing my symptoms?
  • What treatment options are there? What do you recommend for me?
  • What can the treatment do for me?
  • What side effects can it cause?
  • What lifestyle changes might help?
  • What do I do if my symptoms don't get better?
  • What will happen if I do nothing?
  • Will this affect my fertility? If so, how will we treat that?
  • Could a previous surgery be causing my pain and period problems?

Also, write down all the medicines you take for endometriosis and other conditions. Include any over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements.

Prepare Your Answers

Your doctor will have questions for you, too. Be ready to answer:

  • What are your symptoms?
  • When did they start?
  • Do they happen or get worse at certain times?
  • What makes them better or worse?
  • Do any of your close female relatives have endometriosis?

 

Track Your Symptoms

When you tell your doctor about your symptoms, it helps to be specific. For instance, if you feel a stabbing pain in the lower part of your pelvis, say that, instead of, "My belly hurts.” Keep a journal of your symptoms and when and where they started.

  • Painful periods
  • Cramps
  • Painful sex
  • Pain when you pee
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Irregular periods
  • Bloating or nausea during your period
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Headaches
  • Trouble getting pregnant

Don’t leave out symptoms even if they don't seem related to endometriosis. Your doctor needs to know about everything you’ve noticed.

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Open Up to Your Doctor

It can be hard to talk about endometriosis. But with your doctor, it’s important to be open. Don't downplay your pain. Describe it as precisely as you can, using words like burning, sharp, dull, or aching, if those fit how you feel.

Also describe how your pain affects your life. Is it bad enough to make you skip social events or miss school or work? Does it vary from month to month?

Bring a notebook or use your smartphone to take down what your doctor says. Before you leave, ask about your treatment plan or a referral to a specialist, and when you should return for a follow-up.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on October 10, 2018

Sources

SOURCES:

Endometriosis.org: "Talking with your doctor."

Endometriosis Association: “Treatment Options.”

Endometriosis Foundation of America: "Abby Norman: Optimizing treatment: Talking to Your Doctor," "Consider Endometriosis."

Mayo Clinic: "Endometriosis."

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Endometriosis.”

Familydoctor.org: “Endometriosis."

Womenshealth.gov: “Endometriosis.”

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