You're likely to start by seeing your primary care provider. However, in some cases when you call to set up an appointment you may be referred immediately to a doctor who specializes in conditions affecting the female reproductive tract (gynecologist).
What you can do
To prepare for your appointment:
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance to prepare for diagnostic tests.
- Make a list of symptoms you're experiencing. Include any that may seem unrelated to the reason for your appointment.
- Make a list of your key medical information. Include any other conditions for which you're being treated, all past surgeries, and the names of any medications, vitamins, herbal remedies or supplements you're taking.
- Consider questions to ask your doctor. Make a list, take it with you to your appointment, and make notes as your doctor answers your questions.
For rectovaginal fistula, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's causing these symptoms?
- Are there other possible causes for my symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need? Do these tests require any special preparation?
- Is this condition temporary or long lasting?
- What treatments are available, and which do you recommend?
- Are there any alternatives to the treatment you're recommending?
- Will I need surgery?
- Do you have any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
Don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment anytime you don't understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to focus on. Your doctor may ask:
Nov. 15, 2012
- When did you begin experiencing your symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- Are you able to have regular bowel movements?
- Do you experience uncontrolled loss of stool, also called fecal incontinence?
- Do you have difficulty with constipation that requires excessive straining?
- Have you given birth vaginally? Were there any complications?
- Have you ever had pelvic surgery?
- Have you ever been treated for a gynecologic cancer?
- Have you had pelvic radiation therapy?
- Do you have any other medical conditions, such as Crohn's disease?
- deBeche-Adams TH, et al. Rectovaginal fistulas. Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery. 2010;23:99.
- Champagne BJ, et al. Rectovaginal fistula. The Surgical Clinics of North America. 2010;90:69.
- Tintinalli JE, et al. Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=6361536. Accessed Sept. 19, 2012.
- Gregorcyk SG, et al. Rectovaginal fistulas and rectoceles. American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. http://www.fascrs.org/physicians/education/core_subjects/2001/rectovaginal_fistulas_and_rectoceles/. Accessed Sept. 21, 2012.
- Schwartz DA, et al. The role of imaging tests in the evaluation of anal abscesses and fistulas. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Sept. 21, 2012.
- Fecal incontinence. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/fecalincontinence/#6. Accessed Sept. 21, 2012.
- Toglia MR. Rectovaginal, anovaginal, and colovesical fistulas. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Sept. 21, 2012.
- de la Poza G, et al. Genital fistulas in female Crohn's disease patients: Clinical characteristics and response to therapy. Journal of Crohn's and Colitis. 2012;6:276.
- Hoffman BL, et al. Williams Gynecology. 2nd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=56720725. Accessed Sept. 19, 2012.
- Brunicardi FC, ed., et al. Schwartz's Principles of Surgery. 9th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2010. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=5014922. Accessed Sept. 21, 2012.
- Gallenberg MM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 26, 2012.
- Klingele CJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 6, 2012.