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Empowering Your PCOS Diagnosis: The medical aspects

Sunday, March 20, 2016
By Imelenchon via MorgueFileThis is the third article in a series about empowering your PCOS diagnosis. Links to the first two articles are at the end of this blog post.

Why you need a GP as well as a naturopath

A visit to your general practitioner is highly recommended, even if you’ve already decided that you want only natural treatment for your PCOS. A medical practitioner can check that there’s nothing more sinister going on than PCOS, and arrange the tests that will enable you to measure your progress as you get better.

How To Find The Right GP For You

If you don’t already have a GP, look for one who specialises in women’s’ health – they’ll be more likely to have lots of experience with diagnosing PCOS. (Your naturopath may be able to identify suitably focused GPs in your area) If you’re keen to use natural therapies to rebalance your hormones, look for an ‘integrative’ medical centre (where doctors and naturopaths work side by side) or locate a doctor who practices in ‘functional’ medicine. The internet can be invaluable for your search, as can be reviews of associations like ACNEM (www.acnem.org) which list integrative medical practitioners and their specific areas of interest. Often these medical practitioners will have a web site where you can get to know how they practice, and who they are as people. 

Pre-plan to Get More From Your Consultation

Before you go to that first appointment, whether it’s an integrative GP or not, make a list of the symptoms that are troubling you, and the dates of your menstrual cycle over the last year. Also take with you any prescription medications, self-prescribed medications or natural supplements that you’re taking. If you’re already seeing a naturopath, he or she can write a referral letter that gives your GP a head start. Expect this first appointment to be non-conclusive, and relatively brief compared to your naturopathic consultation; your GP will likely arrange some initial testing to rule out other disorders and ask you to return with this information before deciding whether to commence treatment and perhaps refer you to a specialist.

A good working relationship with your GP is vital. You need to feel assured that your GP cares, is acting in your best interests, and that you can tell her anything.  Although the government may be subsidising your consultations through Medicare, the practitioner is there to provide a service for you; so keep in mind that you are the customer. The atmosphere in a medical consultation can feel daunting; there is an immense imbalance of power. You’re in the practitioner’s personal space and you may feel very tiny, insignificant and unimportant. If you feel nervous, take a trusted friend or relative with you for support. They can also take notes – it’s difficult sometimes to remember all the details of a consultation and what you have to do next.

Take Notes, Keep Your Records

Part of being empowered with PCOS is taking control of your health; so request a copy of any blood test results, ultrasound reports, and specialist reports. You are legally entitled to a copy as the reports form part of your patient records. The results will prove immensely useful in years to come when you can refer to them again. Also, if you have to move to a new practitioner, he or she will be streets ahead because you have your medical ‘history’ with you. Start your own folder, or put the results in your PCOS Workbook.

If you decide to consult a naturopath, he or she may refer to these test results and specialist reports to help in choosing the right remedies, and to monitor your progress.

The Prodding, Poking and Testing

Your doctor may arrange some blood tests, and do a physical examination. She may ask you to have an ultrasound picture taken to check for cysts on your ovaries, or to check the thickness of your uterine lining. You may also meet with an endocrinologist (a medical hormone specialist) or a gynaecologist (a surgical specialist in female reproductive systems). The specialist may do more tests, ask more questions, and do a more extensive physical examination. Then she will explain the medical treatment options available for you.

If you consult with a specialist endocrinologist or gynaecologist, he will write a letter to your doctor outlining his findings, and you’ll need to meet with your doctor again to discuss the next step. If you weren’t happy with the specialist you consulted with, or you don’t want to go ahead with the treatment he suggests, say so. It’s your choice. 
If you want to investigate potential natural therapies and don’t already have a naturopath, let your doctor know. She may be able to suggest a naturopath who specialises in PCOS treatment.  If your doctor is already trained in naturopathy, lucky you! You’ll be able to discuss alternative treatments with her on the spot.

Medical or Natural Treatment? You Can Have Both

Just as with any practitioner, it’s important you feel comfortable and safe with your doctor and specialists. If you feel your concerns are dismissed or minimised, consider switching to a new doctor. Fortunately we’re moving out of the dark ages, when women’s hormonal problems were dismissed as unimportant, but some practitioners with out-of-date attitudes remain.

If your doctor is dismissive of the benefits of naturopathy, and you definitely want to incorporate natural treatment, it may be time to shop around for a more enlightened GP.  At the very least your naturopath can help you manage the lifestyle changes essential to management of PCOS (diet, exercise and emotional wellness) which are acknowledged as the pillars of successful PCOS treatment. If you decide to utilise prescription medication you can still utilise a naturopath for help with navigating the essential lifestyle treatment elements. 

The other two articles on Empowering your PCOS diagnosis are:

If you enjoyed these articles, why not download the free e-book “When Good Hormones Go Bad”



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