Not feeling good about your gynecologist? You may want to seek out another doctor. How do you know when it’s time to part ways, or if you should just stay put?
Linda Childers, a freelance writer from California, already had a toddler when she got pregnant again. As her second trimester started, she noticed that she wasn’t gaining much weight. She asked her obstetrician for an ultrasound, which was covered by her insurance.
“He said that wasn’t needed and that everything was fine,” recalled Childers. “Three weeks later, I continued to feel like something was wrong, and that this second pregnancy was far different.”
She saw a friend’s doctor, who granted her an ultrasound and found out the embryo had died. That doctor scheduled a D&C immediately and told Childers she would have wound up hemorrhaging if she hadn’t come in and found out about the pregnancy.
“The lesson I learned from this, and what I’ve told friends, is to trust your intuition, and if something doesn’t feel right, get a second opinion,” Childers said.
While the red flags were obvious to Childers, they are not always apparent. Here are a few reasons to consider parting ways with your gyno.
You’re Not on the Same Page
“Patients should do whatever makes them comfortable,” said Carolyn Thompson, a Nashville-based OB/GYN. In some cases, your personalities may not mesh, which is enough of a reason to consider leaving a practice or switching doctors.
“If a woman feels trepidations of any kind with her GYN provider, transferring practices is proactive, healthy, and will lay the groundwork for a positive and enjoyable future health experience,” said Risa Klein, OB/GYN NP and midwife from New York “Taking care of cervical, reproductive, and breast health should be an empowering experience for all women.”
You Can’t be Open
Similarly, if you are apprehensive bringing up sensitive topics due to fear of judgment, that could wind up impairing your health.
“Women want to feel cared for with a genuine interest,” Klein explained. “Women want to feel heard and supported, not challenged by expressing their ideas, fears or concerns.”
“When a doctor, midwife or general practitioner is going to be examining your private parts, a woman needs to feel safe, at ease, and like she is an individual rather than a slab of meat on the exam table,” Klein added. “Having a good bedside manner makes a difference.”
Your Time Isn’t Being Respected
Other reasons to heave-ho? “Patients should be on the lookout for disorganization in the physician and/or staff,” Thompson advises. Make sure the office and exam rooms are clean. The doctor should be respectful and well-groomed. Wait times should be within your comfort level. Some of us are okay waiting an hour to see the doc we love; others aren’t, and there’s nothing wrong with splitting from your care provider for whatever reason you choose.
You Feel Abandoned
Nothing sucks more than a reproductive emergency—especially if you can’t access your doctor. Whether you suspect a UTI or got injured during sex, your provider should respond promptly to inquiries between visits. And if you want to come in for a visit, you should be able to get an appointment within a reasonable amount of time. If the doctor seems to be dodging your calls, it may be time to get out of dodge.
You’re Feeling Unheard
Having a provider who listens and doesn’t rush you is key. Kate Catlin Payne, a communications professional from Raleigh, N.C., was in her 20s when she asked about genetic testing based on her family’s history of breast cancer.
After her exam, the doctor already had her hand on the doorknob to leave before asking if Payne had any questions. She asked about the testing and the doctor said they could set up blood work on the way out.
“I got dressed, left and never went back,” said Payne, who wound up going to a new gynecologist. That doctor recommended she undergo genetic testing and fought with her insurer to secure the testing. Payne was positive for a breast cancer mutation, so the new gynecologist put her in touch with a specialist to conduct regular mammograms.
“Less than two years later, at the age of 31, seven weeks before my wedding, I was diagnosed with breast cancer,” Payne said. “We made the earliest possible catch.”
She credits her choice to change her gynecologist with saving her life.
“If I had not switched doctors, I may never have been tested,” Payne added.