There are a multitude of questions that need to be answered before you decide which endometriosis specialist is best for you. They range from the most simplistic, such as “Do you specialize in the treatment of endometriosis,” to more complicated ones like “Can you please explain your surgical procedure?” As overwhelming as it may be to find all of the answers you deserve to know, it is essential that you don’t “settle” on just anyone. Every person’s body and symptoms are different. Find the endometriosis specialist who is best for you.
On the page titled “Qualifications of an Endometriosis Specialist,” I suggested that the first question you ask before making an appointment with an endometriosis specialist is, “Do you do a full vaginal/rectal exam?” If the answer is no, then you need to find another specialist.
But that, along with the four other points, are just some of the many questions that need to be asked and answered in order for you to find the right specialist.
The following is a guideline of questions to ask in your search. Some are questions that you can find answers to through an online research or by asking other patients. There are also questions that you will likely have to ask the specialist directly. If you make an appointment and speak directly with a specialist, that does not obligate you to stay with that specialist if you do not like some of the answers you receive. Make sure you are putting your health into the hands of someone you completely trust.
Does the doctor specialize in the treatment of endometriosis/adolescent endometriosis?
This is an obvious question, but the answer cannot be assumed. Many people think that every gynecologist is a specialist. Every endometriosis specialist is a gynecologist, but not every gynecologist is an endometriosis specialist.
What percentage of their patients are young?
This is something you will want to ask if you are a young person yourself. The way to treat a patient in their thirties may be different than someone in high school.
Does the doctor have experience with related conditions?
This could mean irritable bowel syndrome, bladder or kidney issues, or appendicitis, to name a few. The more they know about these conditions that have symptoms similar to endometriosis, the better chance you have of not being misdiagnosed.
What is the doctor’s attitude about your role in your health care?
Are they willing to receive input from you? You need to be able to trust your specialist; they are the expert for a reason. But nobody knows your body like you do. Your past experiences or even your intuition will tell you if something is right for you or not. You should be part of this team and effort to get well; your input should matter.
Do they allow ample time for thorough conversation and examination, or do they rush?
You should not be treated like a number. Your specialist should spend ample time with you during your examination(s), and in their office going over everything in detail so that you clearly understand what is happening to your body and what course of treatment is recommended. You should be able to ask and have answered every single question you would like.
Are they able to explain surgical procedures and treatment options clearly?
Some doctors struggle to detail surgical procedures to patients. That is unacceptable. You must be able to understand what treatment they will pursue. Keep asking for them to explain the details as thoroughly and clearly as possible.
What is the doctor’s belief on different hormone therapies (oral contraceptives, IUD, etc.)? Can they discuss their reasons for prescribing certain medications, as well as the associated pros and cons?
Birth control can be an effective way to ease the pain of endometriosis. Would your doctor prescribe that if it is what is best for you, or would they or the hospital they work in refuse? Or, if they want to prescribe you narcotics (which I am against), will they explain to you why? Don’t just accept a certain treatment. Know the reasons behind what your doctor prescribes or doesn’t prescribe.
What does your intuition say? Are you comfortable speaking with them? Do they listen to, acknowledge, and address your concerns? This must be someone you can trust and talk to openly!
Without that trust, that relationship, you will struggle to get well. Trust what your gut tells you. If you aren’t comfortable with a certain specialist, find a different one.
Does the doctor work cooperatively with other specialists who have a history of caring for endometriosis patients (ex. GI doctors, pediatric gynecologists, psychotherapists, etc.)? Your endometriosis specialist should be part of a team of doctors who will be helping you. One thing I offer my patients is access to a therapist. And when I’m in surgery, I have a team of experts in various areas (bowel, kidney, etc.) assisting me. It is going to take your specialist and their team to get you well.
If it has been determined by your specialist and you that surgery is the best option, there are a host of other questions you should ask to help you determine if this specialist is the right person to be performing your surgery:
- How does the doctor plan to use surgery to treat endometriosis? Do they specialize in laparoscopy? How will they remove the endometriosis? Will they excise (cut out) the endometriosis tissue or burn it out with a laser? (See my “Treatments” tab for the difference, and why it never should be burned out.)
- Will your surgery be documented with images?
- How clearly are they able to explain the procedure? What exactly will be done during the surgery? For example, will endometriosis be removed? Or, will it be an exploratory (look-only) surgery. If so, why?
- Is the doctor affiliated with a hospital that regularly treats endometriosis? Do they have a “team” of surgeons established to address different elements of surgical treatment? Will your doctor have other surgeons (general, colorectal, etc.) in the operating room with them?
- What can be expected after the surgery? How much pain can you expect post-operatively? How can you lessen the pain? What are post-op restrictions for going back to school, activities and your normal routine?
- Do they have a pre-op and post-op routine to assist in your healing process?
I highly encourage taking the time to consider each of these questions, and if you need support, don’t be wary of leaning on a mother, daughter, spouse, partner, or friend who can help you find answers to relieve you of some of the burdens. Too many times I’ve had patients who settled for someone who didn’t have the expertise needed to make them well, and they regretted it. Take the time now, not after multiple surgeries or misdiagnoses, to get the answers you deserve.
Ready for a Consultation?Our endometriosis specialists are dedicated to providing patients with expert care. Whether you have been diagnosed or are looking to find a doctor, they are ready to help.
Our office is located on 872 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10065.
You may call us at (212) 988-1444 or have your case reviewed by clicking here.