HEALTH CARE VISITS

COMMUNICATING WITH HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS

An essential component of the mind-body connection is clear communication with your health care professionals, the doctors and nurses chosen to accompany your journey to enhanced fertility. Clear communication about your physical and emotional responses during treatment will create a partnership to empower you and aid the professionals in providing appropriate treatment. Inquire about procedures, time frame anticipated, success rates, and alternatives. Most doctors and nurses intend to be helpful and want to hear how you really feel about choices in the process of fertility enhancement.

Receiving accurate information helps reduce anxiety, a common feeling among women seeking help with fertility issues. Before arriving for your appointment, write down your questions, so the doctor and nurse can clarify options and you can express your own preferences. Should you find your questions not answered satisfactorily, inform the clinicians about your concerns; if the situation is not improved, you may wish to interview and select a different professional group. A doctor/patient relationship based on mutual trust and collaboration is associated with a more positive outcome.

Several books, especially those by Alice Domar, M.D. and Christiane Northrup, M.D., provide helpful information about the mind-body connection in relation to fertility. In Dr. Domar's most recent book, Conquering Infertility, several excellent suggestions for communicating with health care professionals are found in the chapter entitled "The Nitty-Gritty of Infertility Treatment: Financial and Medical Issues:"

- Be proactive and educate yourself through reading and interacting with other women who have similar issues, so you will be your own best informed advocate.

- Ask for an annual copy of medical records and request a clear explanation of them from your physician. Be familiar with your insurance coverage.

- Keep an infertility journal, noting all procedures, information from your health care team, and emotional ups and downs. Note the most stressful times and anticipate when you will most need nurturing.

- Practice relaxation techniques prior to a significant doctor appointment; continue to do them en route to the office and while in the waiting room.

- Bring a family member or good friend to your appointment to take notes as you discuss options with your doctor if you're anxious. Request a referral to a support group or therapist who specializes in working with women with infertility issues.

Sally St. Clair, Ph.D., is a psychologist in private practice. You may reach her at 214.373.6370.