Your Initial Endometriosis Exam
(BlackDoctor.org) — If you’re like most women with endometriosis, you’ve been concerned about your pelvic pain and other unusual symptoms for quite some time. You may not have been taken seriously at first. Parents, friends, and even doctors may have dismissed your symptoms as a normal part of being female. But deep down, you knew your symptoms weren’t normal. At some point, you decided to listen to that voice inside you. And now you’re going for your initial appointment with the gynecologist.
To make sure the doctor has all the information he or she needs in order to develop an appropriate treatment plan for you, it’s important to be well-prepared for this first appointment. Think about your answers to the below questions ahead of time so you can give the doctor all the information he or she needs to help you. If it helps you to remember, you may want to record all your answers in a small notebook and bring it with you to all of your appointments.
Most gynecologists ask several basic questions at every appointment, including the first appointment you make to discuss endometriosis concerns:
• Date of your first menstrual period
• Date of your most recent menstrual period
• Duration of your period
• Type of flow (heavy, medium light)
• Are your cycles regular (every 28 to 30 days) or irregular?
• What medications, including birth control pills, hormones and/or supplements, do you take on a regular basis?
• Have you had any previous illness, including sexually-transmitted diseases? If so, please list them.
• Have you had any surgeries? If so, what were the dates.
• List your immediate family’s major illnesses and diseases.
• List all known allergies.
• Do you use tobacco? If yes, how much and how often?
• Do you drink alcohol? If yes, how much and how often?
• Do you or have ever used illegal drugs? If yes, how much and how often?
• Do you have pain with your menstrual periods?
Specific Pain Questions
Many women with endometriosis report significant amounts of pain: bowel pain, period pain, etc. Your doctor will be very interested in any type of pain you’re suffering from. In general, they’ll will ask:
• When did your pain start?
• Where is the pain?
• How severe is the pain (severe, moderate or mild)?
• Is the pain getting worse?
• Do you have pain during or after sexual intercourse?
• Painful bowel movements?
• Pelvic pain when exercising?
• Type of pain? (Endometriosis pain is usually described as burning, stabbing, gnawing, cramping, jabbing, throbbing, cold, sharp, aching, or pressure)
• Are you in pain right now?
• How many days of each month are you in pain?
• How does the pain impact your life?
• What medications have you taken to try alleviating the pain?
In sharing basic and pain-specific information, your doctor will also want to know about additional ailments that also tend to be symptoms of endometriosis:
• Do you routinely experience nausea with menstruation?
• Do you vomit during menstruation?
• Do you have unusual vaginal bleeding at any time during your cycle?
• Do you experience painful urination or blood in urine at any time during your cycle?
• Do you have difficulty gaining or losing weight?
• Do you experience fatigue?
Discussing Symptoms With Your Doctor
Seeing a doctor about pelvic pain and other troubling gynecological symptoms can be rather uncomfortable. Teenagers are especially self-conscious in the gynecologist’s office. However, it is vitally important to carefully explain your symptoms and to be completely honest about everything that’s bothering you. Providing accurate information is the key to evaluating your current condition. By doing so, you’re helping to ensure a correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment.