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Advocating for yourself with PCOS:

How to advocate for yourself at the doctor: tips to have an informed and empowering conversation with your GP.


Stethoscope, medication and pill box

Advocating for yourself when facing a GP or other health care professional can be tricky. We often find them intimidating and see them as the ‘expert’ therefore taking their word and believing that they know best. Now, this can be true – they are experts and have done years of training after all – however, you are the expert when it comes to your body and this is something you should never forget.


All too often I hear the only treatment options given are, ‘take birth control and come back if/when you’re ready to conceive’ or, ‘you need to lose weight to manage your symptoms’. This advice is dated, unhelpful and not suitable for everyone. To help you have informed conversations with your GP or Healthcare professional and walk away feeling happy with the outcomes, I’ve pulled together some advice on how to advocate for yourself and get the most out of your consultations.


Tip #1 - Keep a record and take it along with you


Make sure you have been tracking both your cycle and your symptoms as well as the impact these symptoms are having on your day-to-day living. Going armed with all this information and knowledge will empower you to have meaningful and constructive conversations with your GP. It will also give them a much clearer idea on exactly what is going on.


Tip #2 - Be clear on what it is that you’re asking for and what your goals are


Before you go into your consultation, be clear on what you would like to get out of the consultation. Whether it’s further testing, a referral, confirmation of your diagnosis, a treatment plan. Ensure you have communicated your goals to your GP, you want them to be clear on whether you are there for help in managing your symptoms, receiving a diagnosis, improving fertility or something else.



Tip #3 - Be informed by going in armed with information


Knowledge is power. If you can go in armed with good quality information then it will be easier to get what you want and need out of the consultation. If you can provide a reasoning behind your request and back this up with research, then you’re far more likely to get the healthcare professional to go along with your request.


Tip #4 - Be picky about who you see


When booking your appointment there is no harm in asking if there is a GP in the practice who specialises in women’s health, as they will be far more familiar with your symptoms and condition and hopefully have more experience in formulating a diagnosis or treatment plan. If not, then you might want to request to see a female doctor as they are often more understanding and knowledgeable in women’s health. If you see a doctor and aren’t happy with the outcomes, then you are completely within your rights to request to see another doctor for a second opinion.


Tip #5 - You don’t have to take no for an answer.


If any of your requests have been declined e.g., if you have asked for blood tests and they’ve told you they are not necessary or are not part of the ‘normal’ treatment plan, then don’t be scared to push back. Ask the GP where in the guidelines it states that the blood tests you would like should not be tested for in the management and diagnosis of PCOS. If they still refuse, then you can get in touch with the practice manager and ask them why your request was refused (you very rarely need to go this far but it’s good to know what your options are).


Tip #6 - Ask ALL the questions.


Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to understand what the GP has recommended. It is your right to know what they have decided and the reasoning behind their decision. If this means you need to ask the same question twice or ask them to explain themselves in a different way to help you understand then so be it – don’t walk away wishing you had asked something you didn’t.


Tip #7 - Are there other options?


If your GP has recommended a treatment plan and you’re not sure it’s something you’re interested in, don’t be afraid to ask what alternatives (if any) there are. You don’t need to accept their advice or their recommendations if it’s not something you are 100% comfortable with. If you’re unsure, go away, think about it and let them know you what you decide to do.


It may be helpful to write down some of the above and take this in with you as a prompt and a reminder of everything you wish to discuss. Another option is to take someone into the consultation with you – sometimes this helps give you the confidence you need to ask all the questions you have. They can also remind you if there’s anything you forget to mention.


Lastly, ask your GP if you can record the consultation to enable you to listen back later. We often aren’t able to absorb everything that’s said and being able to listen back later will help you catch something you might have missed.

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