Being Your Own Advocate

By Erik Hirs — November 3, 2015

2 min read

One of the most important things I’ve learned since beginning my journey of infertility has been advocating for my own health.  This is something that I can preach about, especially to newcomers in the infertility community.  Though it may not even cross your mind in the beginning, the longer you spend on this path, the more you’ll come to terms with what it means to be your own advocate and how important it really is to your success.

In the beginning, you’ll feel very alone, but also as though you’re your doctor’s only patient.  You’ll feel like you’ve got it the worst, that they have never seen or treated anyone like you, and that their world should revolve around your treatment.  I may be exaggerating a bit, but since most of us don’t plan for infertility, and because there is such a lack of education about the disease, we really don’t know anything about it until we have to. It’s a scary and lonely feeling in the beginning.

In reality, your doctor will be treating lots of patients in similar situations, and you won’t be her first (or last) case like yours.  This is where things can get sticky.  This is why you need to stay on top of your own treatment, ask the questions that YOU feel are important, and do as much as possible to educate yourself on both your diagnosis (if you’re lucky enough to have one) and infertility in general.  

Become an expert!  Know the facts and the statistics, learn about the different types of testing you can have done (such as genetic testing), discover available grants, find supplements, read books, share stories, get involved in the community, and generally do as much as possible, because YOU have control over YOUR destiny and fate.  You should also become an expert in your insurance coverage, if you have it, to make sure that you’re getting the best coverage available to you.

Of course, your doctor is ultimately the person writing up your treatment plan and prescribing your meds, but if someone you know has had some testing done that you think might be beneficial, but which your doctor does not offer to you, ask them!  If there are things that you’re very adamant about having done (like certain types of testing), then be sure to bring those concerns and wants to the table.  If your doctor is willing to agree or even compromise with you, then you’ve got a great doctor.

I always think about and write my questions down prior to a consultation or appointment.  In the beginning, you may not know what questions to ask, but over time, you will know and understand the specific things that you want done– anything from types of testing to types of progesterone.  Writing your questions down, bringing them with you to your appointment, and writing down your doctor’s answers is great way to keep from getting too overwhelmed with information.  It will also help you remember everything that you and your doctor discussed during the appointment.

In the end, you are ultimately in control of what happens during your journey.  You may not be able to control the outcome of a cycle (I wish!), but you, along with your doctor, can control the factors leading up to that cycle in order to achieve a successful pregnancy.  Remember, the only stupid question is the one that wasn’t asked.  Our doctors deal with several patients at once, and they will not remember every single detail about you, your previous cycles, or your diagnosis without looking back into your records.  If there is something else that you want, you have to ask for it.  Being a go-getter in the world of health is so important, and it is one of the most crucial things I try to stress to others.