Let’s Talk About Advocating For Yourself With Medical Professionals

This week, let’s talk about how to prepare for appointments with medical professionals. I know for many, this can be a source of trepidation because of negative experiences in the past. 

Maybe you’ve had a doctor who dismissed your concerns. Maybe it was a nurse who made you feel like everything was all in your head. Maybe you’ve been intimidated by the experience of sharing intimate health concerns. Hopefully what I’ll share here will help you navigate your next appointment with a little more ease.

  • If you can, choose the type of appointment that makes you feel most at ease. You might feel most comfortable with a virtual appointment over Zoom or your doctor’s digital service. 

  • Prepare for every appointment: write down your symptom(s), when they happen (including when in your menstrual cycle), any pain you experience, including the levels and description and your questions. Remember to focus on one problem per appointment. 

  • Know all your key information: menstrual cycle length and variations, length of period, what ovulation and menstruation feel like for you. 

  • Know your desired outcome from the appointment / consultation. Is it a referral? Is it a diagnosis? Is it a blood test? Is it a certain type of examination? Is it to have a discussion about what you’ve been experiencing? Whatever it is, be really clear about your desired next steps.

  • During the appointment, write everything down so you can refer back to it later. Don’t rely on your memory, especially if you’re going to be discussing something complicated. You might go further by asking if you can record the consultation, as a voice memo or a screen recording. 

  • Make sure everything is written in your file. Sometimes you might not reach your desired outcome in an individual appointment. If you’ve been refused a referral, examination or medication, make sure this is noted on your file. This will help if you switch doctors and you need to show proof that what you asked for was declined. 

  • Make sure you leave the consultation feeling really clear about what’s been said to you and the next steps. Even though each appointment is for a limited amount of time, you’re allowed to ask questions. Make sure you don’t leave feeling confused or uncertain. 

If all of this feels really overwhelming, bring someone with you that can advocate on your behalf. Here’s a link to find out more about patient advocacy options in the UK.

I’d love to know: do you feel able to advocate for yourself when speaking to healthcare professionals? Tell me more in the comments. 

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Le’Nise Brothers is a yoga teacher and registered nutritionist, mBANT, mCNHC, specialising in women’s health, hormones and the menstrual cycle. She is also the host of the Period Story Podcast, which aims to break taboos around menstrual health and hormones. 

Le’Nise has helped hundreds of women improve their menstrual and hormone health through her private practice and group programmes, talks and workshops for the likes of Stylist, Channel 4, Ebay and TikTok and her Instagram page. Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating. They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause. 

Her first book You Can Have A Better Period will be released in March 2022. 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! If you’re looking for support with your hormone and menstrual health, click this link to book a 30 minute health review to talk about working together.

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