Seeking a Second Opinion
There can be several reasons to seek another opinion. Many women who seek medical care for vulvodynia don’t have a choice, because they’re still not diagnosed after consulting three physicians. The most obvious reason to seek a second opinion is that the first provider you visit is not experienced in treating vulvodynia. Also, since pain tends to be undertreated by the medical community, you want to be sure that your provider is taking your pain seriously.
Should I Seek a Second Opinion?
No single treatment works equally well for all women with vulvodynia. For example, one woman may find relief with a topical cream, while another may need a combination of oral medication and physical therapy. Based on your symptoms, you and your physician (or other provider) will develop an individualized treatment plan. However, physicians differ in their approach. e.g., some prefer to start with very conservative therapies, while others will immediately suggest more aggressive treatments. Consulting another physician can either reassure you that you’ve been offered the most up-to-date, appropriate treatment or convince you to try a different treatment, possibly with fewer side effects.
Never hesitate to seek a second opinion, even if you feel comfortable with your provider’s expertise. In fact, many physicians expect you to seek a second opinion. It is your health and quality of life at stake.
Is He/She the Best Provider for Me?
Sometimes you may not be satisfied with your health care provider and wonder if you can find better care with someone else. If you experience any of the following, it may be time to seek care from another provider:
- Your provider tells you that your pain is ‘all in your head.’
- Your provider tells you that there is nothing else that he/she can do for you.
- If you live in a rural area, or aren’t able to choose your provider, such as with an HMO, it can be valuable to see an expert for an initial evaluation, even if it means traveling out of town. The expert will send a report with treatment recommendations to your local provider.
- You have a difficult time getting timely appointments.
- Your provider is unwilling to work with other members of your health care team.
- Your provider is dismissive of your concerns or has a poor bedside manner.
- You are spending more time with the nurses and office staff than your provider.
- Your phone calls and questions go unanswered.
- You find yourself repeating basic information at each appointment.
- The ‘latest’ products/prescriptions are being offered to you without explanation.
- You feel that you are being pressured to participate in a clinical trial and your provider doesn’t give a satisfactory explanation of why it is appropriate for you.