In a world where doctor visits are usually too short and overly expensive, Dr. Sara Gottfried is dishing up six important tips to keep in mind when speaking about hormones to your doctor.
My mission is to help women weed through the myths and mysteries to uncover the truth: how to eat, how to move, and how to live so you thrive in that powerful place of physical, mental and emotional well-being. But at the end of the day, many of you still have health issues you have to address with conventional medicine.
If you’re lucky, you have a caring and committed physician who is willing to guide you in the process. If you’re not so lucky? You can end up feeling frustrated and alone when your doctor doesn’t listen to your concerns – or when you’re thrown yet another prescription for something that may or may not help you get better.
If you suspect you have a hormonal imbalance but you’re concerned about how to approach your doctor, you’re not alone. While I specialize in these types of issues, many general physicians may not investigate this area as a first plan of attack to treat health problems.
So what do you do when you’re ready to broach the subject? How can you get the right answers, take the right tests and know that your doctor is on your side?
If you’re willing to be candid, a little preparation can help you open the lines of communication – and hopefully lead you to better health outcomes.
Here are six tips for broaching the subject of hormone balance with your physician.
1. Take my hormone quiz
Doctors are no different from other working professionals who see clients or patients. Their time is usually limited, so it’s important to make the most of your appointment. A good step for initial preparation is to take my hormone quiz (you can access it online or in my book, “The Hormone Cure”). The results of this assessment should give both you and your doctor a general idea of what hormonal imbalances might be at play. With a few follow-up questions, your physician should be able to determine what tests might be needed to investigate the problem further.
2. Come armed with your own research
It never hurts to present a physician with your own research on the topic that concerns you. If you’ve done your homework, feel free to bring along books, studies or other materials on the subject. This can help start the conversation, letting your doctor know that you’re informed and serious about getting answers.
3. Be specific
If you’ve taken preliminary tests, done your research or have some other reason to suspect a problem (maybe you have a family history of low thyroid or an autoimmune condition, for example), don’t be afraid to ask for specific tests. If, on the other hand, you’re going into the conversation with little information, bring along a list of specific questions. You can then compare your doctor’s answers to your own research – or you can get a second opinion.
4. Ask for a referral – or find another MD
If you’re not confident in your physician’s ability to help you address your concerns, it’s always OK to ask for a referral to an endocrinologist or someone who has more experience treating hormonal imbalance. You may also need to simply shop around for a doctor with whom you feel comfortable and supported.
5. Consider a “combined” approach
While some physicians are great at blending traditional medicine with more holistic approaches, you might need to turn elsewhere for support in areas like nutrition, herbal medicine or natural hormone balance. It may be possible to work with your doctor but also to get support from a health coach, a nutritionist or some other type of practitioner who has the necessary qualifications. This might require a more proactive stance on your end – you’ll need to make sure you’re communicating important information with both the doctor and the practitioner (like your health history, supplements or herbs you’re taking, etc.) But this type of combined approach can work if you’re doing it safely and consulting both parties about the treatment you’re receiving.
6. Seek until you find
Finding a good doctor is like finding a good therapist, a good friend or a good job – it can take some time and effort. Do your research, read patient reviews and study a physician’s background, qualifications and approach before you even have a consultation. Like any other relationship, when it’s right, you’ll know.
Lastly, remember that the biggest advocate for your own treatment and care should be you. Ask the tough questions, be assertive and follow up – your health may depend on it.
Read more from Dr. Sara Gottfried on her site.