7 Tips for Women to Better Communicate with Their Doctors

When it comes to your health, nothing is more important than having open and honest communication with your caregiver. As a woman, you may have special concerns you need to address with your caregiver, but it can be hard to do so at times. Many times, the doctor is in and out of the exam room addressing your complaints and concerns so quickly your head spins. It can be difficult to address your health concerns when your time with your doctor is limited or you feel rushed. Here are some tips to help you better communicate your needs with your doctor and prepare for your next visit.

Write Your Concerns Down
Many times I have seen my own doctor, intending to ask him about a particular issue, only to realize, as I walk out the front door, that I forgot. Many doctor’s offices are busy and fast paced, so it can be easy to forget things you wanted to mention during the rush. Prior to your appointment, write down everything you need to talk to your doctor about on a list. This will help you to better remember the things you needed to discuss with your caregiver.

Be Assertive
Your health is the most important thing there is. It’s important to remember that treatments your caregiver prescribes are comparable to advice; you can choose whether or not you follow it. If you are uncomfortable or disagree with a treatment your doctor is recommending, speak up! Let your caregiver know, and ask him or her what alternatives are available and how effective these alternatives are in comparison.

Ask Questions
During your appointment, ask questions. This is particularly important if you have special health concerns or practices. When my son was only five-months-old, I required an emergency appendectomy. He was still breastfed and I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to nurse him because of the drugs. I asked my doctor and he was able to explain the safety of my son to continue breastfeeding. If I hadn’t asked him about it, I would have assumed breastfeeding was unsafe and my milk supply may have suffered as a result. If you’re unsure of what you should be asking your doctor, here are some questions Dr. William C. Shiel recommends patients ask at every appointment.

Research Your Concerns Ahead of Time
If you know what’s affecting your health ahead of time, read up on it, either online or in books. By reading up on the issue ahead of time, you will have a better understanding of what your doctor says to you regarding the health issue and the treatment of it. This will make your appointment go much more smoothly; making it easier on you and your doctor.

Provide Your Caregiver With A Thorough Medical History
Be sure to disclose your entire medical history to your caregiver. This includes physical problems, psychological issues, surgeries and medications you take or have taken. Be sure to include any supplements or herbs you take regularly. By disclosing all the information you can, your doctor will be better able to prescribe a treatment regimen that will work best for you.

Call Back & Schedule Another Visit If Issues Persist
If the treatment prescribed is ineffective, or your condition or symptoms worsen, do not be afraid to contact your doctor for follow up care. No treatment regimen can be effective for every person; your doctor knows this and will be able to prescribe an alternate treatment plan that may better work for you. In 2009, I had two surgeries, a wisdom tooth extraction and a major injury. By the time my third surgery was over, the particular pain medication I was on had become ineffective. I called my doctor and he was able to switch me to a different medication that could better control the pain. If I hadn’t called, I most likely would have continued to suffer with ineffective medications.

Follow Your Intuition
Lastly, you should follow your intuition. If something doesn’t feel right, be sure to voice this to your caregiver, and if necessary, see another caregiver. Women are known for having a strong intuition; follow yours!