Discussing infertility treatments, even with your doctor, can be intimidating. Usually, a long road of unanswered questions and many difficult moments has led you to their office, leaving you feeling less than qualified to have an opinion on where to go from here. But, your voice matters and you must learn to self-advocate in the process of finding the right direction for your treatments.
Representing your needs and knowing they will be heard, starts with basic knowledge.
What to Know About Your Doctor
Going to the most highly recommended Reproductive Endocrinologist, will not guarantee a great fit for your situation. We all process information differently and value a myriad of qualities in our healthcare providers. How can you confidently choose the right doctor for you?
Here are a few questions for you to consider:
- Do you feel rushed? Or, do you feel as though the doctor takes the time to answer all of your concerns and questions completely?
- Do you leave your appointments with confidence in the progress you are making, even if the answer is still unclear?
- Are your feelings being heard and considered in every decision along the way?
- Does your doctor understand and sympathize with your frustration, anger, or fear?
- When you need answers between visits, is your doctor, or a nurse who has access to your information, easy to contact and prompt to respond?
While there are factors that can prevent you from changing doctors, such as location or insurance, decide which values impact you the most, and choose that provider. The search will be worth the effort as you move forward.
What to Know About Yourself
Infertility can be completely overwhelming and confusing. You likely experience a range of emotions you never knew you were capable of prior to this particularly trying time. This intangible obstacle can also leave you feeling helpless and incapable of making the right decisions; leading you to surrender the right to make choices to a doctor you view as infallible. However, while the doctor may be a specialist in Assisted Reproductive Technology, no one is more capable of understanding you, than you are.
Remind yourself of these things, when speaking up seems difficult:
- You are worth your doctor’s time and deserve to be understood and to have your needs met. The doctor is there for you, the patient, not the other way around.
- Your motivation and convictions play a very important role during the course of receiving fertility treatments. Be committed to finding answers and moving forward with every visit.
- Learn to overcome the mental blocks from past situations or personal insecurities that stand in the way of you being able to advocate for yourself. Many times the stress of the situation can leave you reeling and unable to gather your thoughts, so search for stress-reducing methods to conquer your fears and remain in charge.
What to Know About Self-Advocacy
When treating infertility, there are often points in which you can take multiple paths forward. If you first know your doctor and know yourself, you can learn to make those difficult decisions when you follow a few guidelines:
- Gather information on the available options so you can make an educated decision. Doctors often offer literature about the methods they are proposing, and you should fully take advantage of those resources.
- If you do Internet research, be sure to confirm the reliability of the sources with your doctor. You can often find confusing and conflicting information online, which will only paralyze you when it comes time to choose the direction you want to take.
- A load of information you will receive at your visit may require you to record the conversations to review later when it is important that you fully understand every aspect of your choice. You should also write down any questions you feel are important to ask so they are not forgotten during visits that can be emotionally charged, or that can simply overwhelm you with information.
- Take the time you need to make a decision so that you can understand what you are considering. It is easy to want to speed ahead on this journey, but it is, often, a complicated and slow progression.
Overtime, you will undoubtedly find yourself able to understand more and more of the terms used and the options available in your situation. The more knowledge you gain on the subject, the more self-assured you can be at each turn in the road. Beginning to speak for yourself, even though you might rather stick your head in the sand, will move you toward finding the answers you need more quickly than a doctor alone could make progress.
Believe in your voice and do not allow your frustration, or resentment that you are even in this situation, to overshadow your needs and thoughts on the right treatment for your infertility.