Working with your doctor when you have endometriosis

Choosing a doctor with whom you communicate well and preparing for your appointments may help you to get the most out of your endometriosis care.

Endometriosis can be a challenging condition to diagnose and treat. Symptoms are similar to those of other conditions. And although effective treatments can help you manage your symptoms, there is no cure. Because of these challenges, choosing a doctor with whom you communicate well and preparing for your appointments can help you get the best care.

Choose a doctor

If you don't have a primary care doctor or a gynecologist or are considering finding another, it may help to:

  • Decide what qualities are important to you. For example, is it important to you whether your doctor is a man or woman? Does it matter where they're located or whether they're affiliated with a hospital or network of specialists? Do they need to be a good listener or have a certain number of years of experience? Are they partially or fully covered by your insurance?

    Then, decide what qualities are must-haves and what qualities you could be flexible on.

  • Ask for recommendations. Ask family members and friends what doctors they recommend and why. You can also ask other health care providers whom they recommend.

    Ask questions about recommended doctors, to determine whether the doctor has the qualities you've decided are most important to you. Based on your research, create a short list of doctors who you'd like to talk to.

  • Call or meet your top choices. Call the doctor's office to ask if the doctor is taking on new patients. You can also ask the office about the doctor's education and experience and any office and payment policies.

    Consider making an introductory appointment with the doctor to decide whether he or she is someone with whom you'd like to partner. But know that you may be charged for this appointment.

    After your first appointment, consider whether you felt comfortable, had your questions fully answered, felt listened to and found things easy to understand. If not, you may want to consider another doctor.

Prepare for your appointment

Once you've chosen a doctor, whether you're scheduling your first appointment or follow-up appointments, it's a good idea to prepare in advance. Before you meet with your doctor:

  • Make a list of any symptoms you're experiencing. Include all of your symptoms, even if you don't think they're related.
  • Make a list of any medications, herbs or vitamin supplements you take. Include how often you take them and the doses.
  • Ask a family member or close friend to accompany you, if possible. You may get a lot of information at your visit, and it can be difficult to remember everything.
  • Take a notepad or electronic device with you. Use it to make notes of important information during your visit.
  • Prepare a list of questions to ask your doctor. List your most important questions first, to be sure you address those points.

For endometriosis, some basic questions to ask your doctor could include:

  • What tests do I need and what will they tell you?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • What medications are available to treat endometriosis? Is there a medication that can improve my symptoms or that might work better than others I've tried?
  • What side effects can I expect from medication use?
  • Under what circumstances do you recommend surgery?
  • Will I take a medication before or after surgery?
  • Will endometriosis affect my ability to become pregnant?
  • Can treatment of endometriosis improve my fertility?
  • Can you recommend any alternative treatments I might try?
  • Should I see another specialist? For example, if you're seeking treatment for infertility, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in reproductive hormones and optimizing fertility (reproductive endocrinologist).
  • Do you have any printed information that I can have? What websites do you recommend?

Make sure that you understand everything your doctor tells you. Don't hesitate to ask your doctor to repeat information or to ask follow-up questions for clarification.

What to expect from your doctor

Some potential questions your doctor might ask include:

  • Are you experiencing belly, back or pelvic pain?
  • What does the pain feel like and when does it occur? Do you have pain before, during or after your period? Do you have pain during sex or while urinating or having a bowel movement?
  • Are you experiencing other symptoms such as cramping, changes in your period or bleeding between periods?
  • Are you trying to get pregnant or having difficulty getting pregnant?
  • How often do you experience these symptoms?
  • How long have you had these symptoms?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • Do your symptoms seem to be related to your menstrual cycle?
  • Does anything improve your symptoms?
  • Does anything make your symptoms worse?
  • Has your mother, sister or aunt had endometriosis?

Your relationship with your doctor is important. To get the best care, be sure to speak up at any time with questions and concerns. At the end of your appointments, summarize what you learned. Your doctor can then correct anything you might've missed or misunderstood. Together, you can work to address your symptoms.

Jan. 30, 2020 See more In-depth