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.
NEHA PATHAK: Our periods can be
painful, but we don't need
to tough out severe cramps.
Get honest with your doctor
about your pain
and any other symptoms
you may be having.
She can work with you to find
out what's behind the pain,
and help treat it.
Endometriosis is when the lining
of your uterus
grows outside of it.
in 10 women of childbearing age
It's so important to gather
as many details
about your symptoms
as you can before your checkup.
key for your doctor.
It could help her diagnose you.
You can go online and find ways
to track your period pain
and all of your other symptoms.
Try to find out things like, do
painful periods run
in your family?
Have you had past issues
in your pelvic area?
Keep a period tracker
so that you know the specifics
of your cycle.
And then think about ways
to describe your pain.
How much pain do you have
on an average day?
What types of activities
trigger your pain?
Does sex trigger your pain?
Is the pain keeping you
from doing things that you enjoy
And then think about how long it
Do you bleed a lot?
Think about how many tampons
you use or how many pads you use
Talk about your treatment
once you get your diagnosis.
If you have endometriosis,
your doctor has lots of ways
to help you take charge
of your symptoms
and to feel better.
It's also important to know
if you have endometriosis
because it's one
of the top three reasons
behind female infertility.
But the good news is it's
Your doctor should be
like your friend
and your confidant
during your visit.
Don't feel like you can't be
open or honest
about every detail.
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
- Painful sex
- Pain when you pee
- Heavy bleeding
- Irregular periods
- Bloating or nausea during your period
- 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.
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.