It’s important for a woman to have a strong relationship with her gynecology team. After all, these are the health care providers who confirm her pregnancy, care for her during a physically and emotionally momentous time, and bring her child into the world. Gynecologists also are doctors who diagnose more private issues like urinary tract infections or conditions related to menstruation, so trust is imperative.
While there are many wonderful health care practitioners out there, how will you know which one is the right choice? Here are just a few of the many factors to guide you through the process of choosing the right women's health care practice for you.
Begin your search by first consulting with your health insurance company on which providers accept your plan. You wouldn’t want to find a great doctor you really like, then discover they don’t take your insurance. Your first step should be consulting your insurance company’s list of providers, either from the printed materials the insurance company provided you or from an online portal. From this list, you can narrow down your options.
The next factor you need to consider is the office location. Your girlfriend may have given you a great referral, but is the location convenient for you? If you have to drive 40 minutes to go to a doctor you really want to see, make sure that is something that will work for you; it may not be feasible for everyone, especially if you’re in labor. Ideally, choose a women’s health clinic that is close to either work or home, since those are the two places you spend the most significant amounts of time.
In addition to the women’s health clinic location, you should be comfortable with its hospital affiliation. Some women have a preference, particularly if they need gynecological surgery or are pregnant.
For personal issues and exams, do you feel comfortable choosing a male health care professional? Some women feel more comfortable with a female, because they feel a woman can better relate to their issues. Ultimately, you want to choose the health care provider who you feel is most qualified to handle your health issues, but make sure you’re comfortable with discussing these issues with them. Interestingly enough, a study in the Journal of Osteopathic Association revealed 66.6 percent of patients had no gender bias when choosing an OB/GYN, and 80.8 percent felt their doctor’s gender doesn’t impact the quality of their care.
Women’s health care professionals treat a wide variety of conditions outside of child-rearing. When searching for a doctor, check credentials to be sure he or she is capable and experienced in many conditions. For example, midwives can do standard annual gynecological exams, but if the exams they perform reveal a more serious issue, they likely cannot treat it, and will have to refer you to a physician.
Sometimes you just click with someone right away, and it helps if your doctor is one of those people. It all comes down to your personal style of communicating, since you are discussing very personal issues such as sexual activity, contraceptives, incontinence and menopause. Some women prefer a straightforward and serious physician, while others might appreciate someone who can crack a joke every now and then to lighten the mood.
The best kind of patient is an informed patient. Do your homework before seeing a health care practitioner, and be prepared to ask questions, just as they will ask you. This will help you gauge whether they are good at listening, which is an important quality in any physician. Make sure they take the time to get to know you and your health needs, and are responsive to your questions. If you feel rushed through your appointment, he or she may not be the right medical professional for you, despite his or her qualifications. Above all, comfort is key.
Fisher-Titus offers comprehensive women’s health services to help you through every stage of life. Learn more about how we can provide you with a full continuum of care.