Gynecology is a very personal aspect of human health, and women often find it challenging to find gynecologists who make them feel comfortable and confident in the care they receive. If you do not feel at ease with your gynecologist, it is generally best to trust your instincts and do further research to ensure your doctor is providing the level of care you expect. While you always have the option of a second opinion, some issues are clear indications you should see a new gynecologist. All women should know the following six red flags that should warn anyone away from a gynecologist for good.
Warning Signs Of A Bad Gynecologist
Your gynecologist’s job is to perform required screenings based on age and individual health factors, inspect for visual signs of gynecological issues, and address patient symptoms and concerns with detailed and accurate advice. If your gynecologist indicates any signs of the following six red flags, start looking for a new one as soon as possible.
Failure To Stay Up To Date With WHO And CDC Guidance On Birth Control
Your gynecologist should be up-to-date on the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). These organizations consistently collate medical data and conduct research into new treatments and diagnostic methods and form the primary consensus for the standard of care in most medical situations.
For example, if your doctor prescribed any form of estrogen containing birth control but did not ask if you had any migraine symptoms, this would be a clear sign he or she has not kept up with the latest WHO and CDC guidelines. Migraines with aura, or migraines that cause visual or auditory interruptions and tingling in the face and head, are a serious contraindication for these medications. Estrogen with birth control may increase the risk of stroke in women who experience migraines with aura.
Inaccurate Assessments Of Symptoms
Physicians use a differential diagnostic process to diagnose a patient’s symptoms. First, the doctor checks the patient’s vital signs and compares them to his or her reported symptoms. For example, a patient complaining of headaches may also have high blood pressure, indicating one diagnosis while normal blood pressure would preclude that diagnosis.
If a gynecologist diagnoses pelvic pain as a symptom of pelvic organ prolapse, this is a clear sign of an inappropriate or inaccurate diagnostic process. Pelvic pain is not a symptom of pelvic organ prolapse; this condition causes a noticeable bulge and a sensation that something is exiting the vagina, but no pain. The doctor may not fully understand pelvic organ prolapse as a condition or know how to properly diagnose pelvic pains; a patient should consider either case a serious red flag.
Inappropriate Recommendations For Surgery
A hasty recommendation for surgery can give any patient cause for alarm; except in cases of severe medical emergency, a doctor will generally want to observe the patient for some period of time and conduct further diagnostics before recommending surgery. If, for example, a gynecologist were to book incontinence surgery without asking the patient for a bladder diary, this could lead to the patient undergoing a needless surgery. The diary is an important diagnostic step because it can help a physician determine whether surgery will help the patient with her incontinence; skipping this step or any other vital step of the diagnostic process before booking surgery is both negligent and dangerous.
Failure To Address Pain During Intercourse As A Symptom
Dyspareunia, or pain during intercourse, is a serious symptom that requires investigation. Sex should not hurt, and any type of pain during intercourse could be a sign of a very serious gynecological issue. If your gynecologist dismisses your concerns about sex during intercourse or makes no attempt to investigate the possible cause, start looking for a new doctor as soon as possible.
Misdiagnosis can lead to a patient’s actual medical condition worsening. If a woman experiences painful intercourse and her gynecologist fails to address this symptom, whatever is causing it could potentially escalate to a life-threatening degree. The doctor may prescribe a treatment that could cause other adverse symptoms if he or she does not take time to accurately diagnose the cause. In either case, mishandling of patient symptoms is a major red flag for any type of healthcare.
Failure To Recognize Potentially Dangerous Prescription Interactions
A good doctor must account for all aspects of a patient’s medical condition, including preexisting conditions and prescriptions intended to treat those conditions. Without proper review of the patient’s medical records, the gynecologist may mistakenly prescribe a medication that has fatally dangerous interactions with another prescription. For example, if the doctor prescribes fluconazole for a yeast infection to a patient who already takes a statin drug for high blood pressure, the patient may die. This interaction can cause rhabdomyolysis and the doctor should advise the patient to stop taking the statin drug during the course of fluconazole treatment.
If your gynecologist mentions any treatment or advice that conflicts with your medical history, bring the discrepancy up as soon as possible. If the doctor was unaware of your prior history, take this as an indication he or she has not thoroughly reviewed your medical records.
Improper Diagnostic Methods
Women report many symptoms to their gynecologists and every symptom requires attention. Those symptoms also require appropriate diagnosis. If your gynecologist claims your pelvic pain is due to uterine fibroids, this is a clear sign of improper diagnosis. Uterine fibroids are benign tumors of the uterine muscles that can cause acute pain once they start to lose their blood supply and degenerate, but this is detectable with imaging procedures. Fibroids commonly cause irregular and/or heavy bleeding, but rarely pain.
These are just a few ways to determine if your gynecologist is truly right for you. Ultimately, trust your instincts if anything feels wrong about a gynecologist’s treatment or if you find yourself experiencing consistent gynecological issues.
Founder and Medical Director of ARIZONA GYNECOLOGY CONSULTANTS
Dr. Kelly Roy is a specialist in surgical gynecology and advanced laparoscopy (and hysteroscopy). She is a long-time resident of Arizona and obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering at Arizona State University before finishing her Doctorate of Medicine at the University of Arizona in 1997.
Dr. Roy completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the then “Banner Good Samaritan Hospital” (now Banner University Medical Center), in Phoenix Arizona in 2001.
Well known for her teaching and surgical ability, she is on the faculty at the residency program at both Banner University Medical Center and Saint Joseph’s Hospital in central Phoenix and is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Phoenix Campus. Dr. Roy has taught advanced surgical techniques to medical students, residents, fellows and colleagues for over 15 years.
Dr. Roy is also a consultant to the medical device industry and has participated in the design and clinical testing of many instruments and surgical devices available on the world-wide market today.