Endometriosis affects hundreds of millions of women across the world. Yet, it commonly misdiagnosed. There are many false ideas and thoughts about the condition. Women are told that it’s all their heads or that it can’t be that bad because there is a lack of understanding about it. There must be more research done. There need to be more case studies. In the meantime, if you suffer from endometriosis, you need to find a specialist. The question is what makes someone an endometriosis specialist? Let’s find out the difference between a gynecologist and an endo specialist.
Your first thought is going to be to go to a gynecologist. A gynecologist is going to know the ins and outs of the female body. They are going to know the difference between the symptoms of menstruation, pre-menopause, and menopause. They will be more familiar with the effects of birth control, hormone therapy, and surgery. They will also know the mental impact that endometriosis takes on a woman. These are all positives.
There are some downsides to picking a gynecologist. A gynecologist may not be as familiar with the new information surrounding the condition. They also will not have a background in surgery or the techniques. Also, a gynecologist will not see as many endometriosis cases.
The best thing to do is to find a gynecologist that has taken the time to further their education to include endometriosis. There are courses that are available to doctors that will teach them the causes of endometriosis and the options for treatment. They are not going to ignore the symptoms, rather, they will look at treatment options that will encompass the entire range of symptoms. It is up to you to ask about their education and experience with endometriosis.
An endocrinologist is going to be more familiar with the glands and the hormones that they control. They are the ones that you would go to for infertility, hormonal imbalances, including PCOS. Since they don’t necessarily specialize in endometriosis, you will need more testing. Also, you are less likely to receive birth control as an option.
The downside of seeing an endocrinologist is that they don’t specialize in the female body. They won’t have the knowledge that the gynecologist has of the female reproductive system.
Making the Choice
One of the best things that you can do is to research the office that you are planning on using. Talk to others with endometriosis and see if they have any experience with that doctor. You want someone who is easy to talk to you. You want your office to be easy to communicate with. Appointments should be easy to get. You want them to be thorough enough to make you feel confident that they understand what is going on with your body.
Other questions that you might want to ask your doctor:
- Do you specialize in treating patients with endometriosis?
- What percent of your practice is devoted to endometriosis?
- How many years have you been treating endometriosis?
- How many patients with endometriosis on average do you see a month?
- What do you consider when treating endometriosis?
Putting Together the Perfect Endometriosis Team
Endometriosis is not a condition that you can treat easily. It affects your whole body and mind. To get the best treatment possible, you might want to put together an entire team. This would ensure that you are getting the best treatment possible. Ideally, this team would be all within the same network. You can start with a gynecologist and get referrals for the rest of your team. The rest of the team should include:
Endocrinologist – to diagnosis and treat the hormonal side of your endometriosis. The bloodwork and labs would be done by this teammate.
Pelvic floor physical therapist – The best treatment for your body is pelvic floor therapy. Not only can it help tighten your muscles but it can also help to alleviate pain and discomfort in your pelvis.
Therapist or Counselor – Endometriosis is not all in your head. It is a real condition that causes your body real pain. That pain can affect your personal life, your ability to work or hold a job, and your sex life. The changes that your body is dealing with can cause you emotional pain or depression. Having someone to talk to can help you a lot more than you might think.
Preparing for Your Appointment
Your first doctor’s appointment can be overwhelming. You will need to be prepared to go through a physical exam. Your doctor may want to go over your full medical history with you. You can make the appointment go by easier by tracking your symptoms, keeping track of treatments that you have had, monitoring your medications and keeping a full list of when and what you take, and by being honest with your doctor.
It is best that you keep a journal of your flare-ups. Track what you eat. Track your sleep. Track your exercise. Note any correlation between when you flare-ups and what you are doing or eating. That makes it easier for your doctor to get down to what treatment plan will best suit your life.
In the days or weeks prior to your appointment, write down any questions you may have. Add to the list as you go. Give yourself room to write down the answers that your doctor gives you. This will make it easy to keep the information that you have available.
Leave room in your notebook to write down treatment options. That way you can go home and research what the doctor has told you. When it is time to decide on a treatment plan, you will be happy to have all the information in the same place.
Endometriosis does not have to take over your life. You can find a way to treat it so that it doesn’t take over your entire life. You can find relief, both temporarily and permanently. The best way for you to take control of your health is to start by finding an endometriosis specialist.