Don’t Forget Your Annual Checkups (OB-GYN and otherwise)
Cheers, dear readers,
I hope that you have been enjoying our latest audio interviews with authors and advocates Lisa Manterfield and Mary Wong. It was an absolute pleasure interviewing both of them and getting to really dig in to their experiences as well as their wisdom and even humor as it relates to each of their respective journeys with infertility. Hearing from more voices and understanding various journeys and stories of others offers so much more of a well-rounded view of the tragedy, stress and finally the triumphs over infertility. So many great life lessons of rising strong after a fall in these interviews – I feel honored and blessed to be able to capture these remarkable hard-earned insights.
In Mary Wong’s interview as Eric points out in his latest post, what really stood out and struck me was even though Mary highly values her health, wellness and eventually became a doctor herself, for many years, she decided to go “natural” assuming she was the picture of health, and then never went to the doctor (OB-GYN or otherwise). As Eric said in his post, “If you feel fine, you are fine, right?”
Well not so much. I shared in my interview with Mary that like her, part of my infertility journey was finding out that I had one blocked fallopian tube. Ironically at that point in my life, I HAD been going to my OB-GYN quite religiously every single year. And it never came up at any appointment that I may have a blocked tube, or even an infection that may have lead to the tube becoming blocked. But I stood a better chance of finding that out by going to the doctor yearly than if I had not.
So I was utterly shocked days ago when I went for my “yearly” OB-GYN appointment and found out to my shock that it has been FOUR YEARS since I have gone! Wow! I had no idea! I DID know that I was overdue, but I did not realize just how much. This really pointed out to me quite directly that I have been subconsciously avoiding going to my annual checkup ever since my infertility diagnosis, subsequent treatment, and trauma. I find it completely ironic that I have been writing this blog for – again FOUR YEARS this June – for a hospital no less! A hospital! And during that time, it never occurred to me to get a checkup.
Also, seriously how have four years gone by? It really is true that time seems to pass by more speedily the older we get. That is a red flag to be aware of: Don’t miss key necessary items such as annual doctor’s visits! So set those reminders now! Remember…
“Just because you feel fine doesn’t mean you should not have regular evaluations by a physician. When it comes to fertility, many of the things that have a huge potential impact on your ability to conceive are things you would never know about, or think about, unless you specifically ask. So ask, and the earlier the better. Many of these factors are entirely unrelated to age, but some certainly are.”
Another funny thing happened to me at the OB-GYN appointment. I was filling out the required medical forms prior to my appointment and came across the question about contraception use. I reviewed the list and found it rather odd that at an OB-GYN office, there was no box to select for “sterile”. Afterall, as a barren woman I do not need to concern myself with contraception. I pondered what to do as I looked down at the choices and saw no choice that was applicable to me. I paused… and then I finally drew a box and wrote the word “STERILE” next to it. And then I checked the box. I was a bit annoyed that I had to do that, as it was a little embarrassing and disturbing this option was not already there! This was a doctor’s office for reproductive health afterall!
When the doctor’s assistant lead me back to the medical room, she reviewed my form. Then she got to the contraception section and asked me why I wrote in “STERILE” and checked it. I was befuddled. I said, “Um, because I am sterile… thus I do not need contraception.”
Not a super great experience at the OB-GYN office as an infertility survivor, I gotta say.
I urge OB-GYN offices everywhere to consider being sensitive to ALL of their patients and perhaps reviewing their questionnaires as well as inform their staff how to gently speak to patients that have different maladies, including infertility.
So in conclusion, I’d like to urge everyone reading this blog post to look after their health by doing the following:
- Go to your annual OB-GYN / General Doctor (for the men) appointments. Set reminders if you need to in order to make sure this happens regularly. Please don’t assume that you are fine!
- When you get there, ask LOTS of questions. This is your big chance to review anything and everything about your reproductive health. Make a list ahead of time if needed.
- For the ladies, go to your annual mammogram appointments as well once you get to the age that this checkup is required.
- Do everything that your doctor tells you (after you double-check that you agree with their assessment if you have concerns).
- See steps 1-4. J
Please join me next week to hear more about my personal journey down the infertility path. I look forward to speaking with you. I wish you the best on your journey.