Why I Keep A Period Diary

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Ever since I was a little girl , I always kept a diary. It was my outlet and a way of keeping a record of the little details of my life.  Unfortunately, I was not very detailed about my periods and their patterns, so when I needed this information, it was nowhere to be found. I answered the doctor with a lot of ‘Umm, I can’t quite remember’ and blank looks with several breaks in between as I tried to run up and down the corridors of my memory trying to remember key details. I am sure that there are many ‘little’ important details that I left out during these consultations.

After many years of trying (and failing) to recall from memory I finally discovered the Period Diary app and it literally changed my life. I was finally able to document my period journey daily, and a couple of months later I begun to recognize patterns in my cycle.

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I quickly realized that my menstrual cycle is not just about the day(s) that I shed the lining  of my uterus. It is about what I experience through the whole cycle, my emotions, diet , ovulation. It is the vaginal discharge all through, the color and texture of the actual shedding. Keeping a period diary has helped me to be more in control of my body, as I know what it’s triggers are and what to anticipate at different times. I am definitely more prepared for the occasional pain, PMS symptoms and actual periods.

Keeping a diary has helped me to see the cause and effect of different things that I’ve tried. For instance, when I detoxed and started taking an Apple Cider Vinegar elixir every morning the inflammation and pain during my cycle significantly reduced. I also figured out that the monthly headaches were reducing over the months, so I was definitely doing something right.

I recommend keeping a period diary to all women, both young and old, whether you have complications or not. It helps you to understand your body, it’s functions and your emotions.

Mothers with teenage daughters, I urge you to ask your girls to keep a period diary as soon as they start their periods. After every couple of months, sit down and review it with them. Talk about the patterns that you both recognize. Many girls don’t know what a normal period is. They often just take their periods as they are,  persevere, until they are adults and realize that something was wrong all along.

There are several period diary apps that you can choose from on the Play store. This is the one that has worked best for me.

If you opt to keep a physical diary, these are some of the details to record:

start-of-periodend-of-periodduration-of-periodsymptoms-physical-symptoms-including-pain-and-discharge-cravings-moodssupplements-medication-or-birth-control-you-are-takingother-notes

 

Blessings,

Ess

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Seeking A Second Opinion

Never be afraid to ask questions about  your body and the things that you have been told it has or doesn’t have or can and can’t do.

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After a long time of searching for someone to believe your symptoms and give you a diagnosis, it is possible to feel an allegiance to the doctor who finally puts a name to the pain or discomfort. Sometimes it is important to get a second opinion, to confirm that the diagnosis and suggested methods of treatment are the most appropriate for your case.

You need to notify your current doctor so that they can avail copies of your imaging studies, medical records, lab and test results for review. Some doctors may be uneasy about you getting a second opinion, in such cases, stick to your gut feeling and go in with an open mind.

Look for a doctor:

a) who doesn’t have a personal or professional relationship with your current doctor. This will help your healthcare to remain the primary objective.

b) who has the training and experience to offer fresh insight into your condition. Do not move from a Gynecologist to a General Practitioner when dealing with Endometriosis.

It is important to note that different doctors’ school of thought, training, exposure and methods may cause them to differ in opinion. The diagnosis may even change. If the opinions of these doctors differ to a large extent then it may be wise to seek a third opinion to make a decision, and hope that the diagnosis and treatment methods lean more to one of the two.

All in all, my prayer is that you find a specialist who will walk with you and give you the care that you need.

Blessings,

Ess

 

Preparing To Visit To The Gynecologist

Visiting a gynecologist for the first time can be confusing and exhausting. I was ill-prepared for my first visit, I barely knew what to expect which made my experience harder than it needed to be.

Over the years, I have come up with a preparation strategy that has yielded great results. I find my visits to the gynecologist now more comprehensive, and the waiting room does not discourage me.

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Here are some tips to help you prepare for your visits to the gynecologist.

1. Call in advance

Doctors are busy people. It is wise to call in advance and make sure that the doctor will be in on the day that you want to go. If the Doctor is very busy and constantly in theatre, call on the day to confirm that he will be in.

If the doctor sees patients by appointment only, be sure to make an appointment in advance.

If the doctor sees patients on a first come, first served basis, find out what time he comes in and leaves, then plan to be there in good time.

Confirm payment terms in advance; if you are using insurance, find out if they accept your insurance cover and if you have to co-pay. If you are paying cash, confirm the amount for first visit and subsequent visits. Clarify the terms of payment accepted, if they accept credit card or M-Pesa or cash.

 2. Write down the key points of your story 

For the doctor to treat you well, it is best if s/he hears the whole story, from the beginning. Write down the key points of your story so that you can refer to them, when asked ‘How can I help you today?’.

Points you can consider:

When did you start your periods? How were they? Your current cycle pattern? If you’ve had a diagnosis made, note down dates. Current symptoms you are experiencing and when they begun. Any family history that s/he should be aware of? Which medicines have you tried and what was your experience? Any drug allergies

3. Carry supporting documents

If you’ve had diagnostic tests done, carry the results so that the doctor can have a look at them . If you are currently taking any medication, carry it for the doctor to see.

4. Write down questions and concerns you may have

Did you read something on google that sparked a number of questions? Note them down. As you ask the questions, remember that google is not a Doctor.

5. Have a meal and carry a form of entertainment

Waiting rooms can be boring and morbid. Sometimes you meet happy-go-lucky people, and sometimes you meet people who’d rather sit in silence. To avoid prolonged small talk that may or may not be appreciated, carry a form of entertainment to keep your mind off of the time you spend waiting.

Waiting can make you hungry, if you can, have a meal before you enter the waiting room.

All the best. As you go, pray that God who knit you in your mother’s womb will give the doctor divine wisdom to treat you.

Blessings,

Ess

10 Factors To Consider When Choosing A Gynaecologist

My first visit to the gynecologist was not what I expected; I was confused, afraid and uncomfortable. After many hours in the waiting room, I finally walked in and saw him. The doctor was a middle aged man who was not too chatty or ‘warm’ but he got the job done. I was young and naive; I was scared because the pain in my abdomen was getting worse as the days went by. I was all alone and looking for consolation but the doctor’s personality was not very warm. In retrospect, I would have chosen differently.

I didn’t really have a criteria when choosing the doctor. After various campus clinic with recurrent pain, the campus doctor just told me to go see one of the doctors on the insurance list. I used the nursery rhyme ‘inky pinky ponky’ to help me choose one. There was nothing objective about this choice; though the campus doctor backed my decision.

Over the years, as I’ve turned different chapters in my health story I’ve had to choose other gynecologists. A couple of doctors later, I finally have a list of factors that I consider before I settle on a gynecologist.

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1. Your need

It is important to know why you are looking for a gynecologist. Is it for a routine visit-pap smear, mammogram, vaccine? Are you looking for an obstetrician to walk with you through your pregnancy? Are you having complications with your period-pain, irregular menses, other condition such as PID, Endometriosis, PCOS? Are you having a difficult time conceiving?

2. The doctors speciality

Gynecologists are not exactly a one size fits all.

Some conditions are better treated by a specialist. Based on your need, consider what the doctor specializes in, then narrow down the list. If your struggling to conceive, a fertility specialist would be a better fit compared to an Obs/Gyn.

3. Payment services

If you are using an insurance cover, find out if the doctor take your insurance cover and what the limit is. It is also important to inquire what the consultation fee is, just incase you need to pay the consultant out of pocket.

4. Availability

Does the doctor have very long lines? Are they only available on certain days? Are they available on phone in case of an emergency? If your current schedule is not flexible then a busy doctor will be difficult to keep up with.

5. Hospitals They Can Operate At

Incase you need to be admitted and have a surgery, find out if the doctor can perform the surgery at your preferred hospitals.

6. Testimonials

Ask around and objectively analyze other people’s experiences with the doctor. Remember that everyone’s experience is personal and two people may differ in opinion.

Personal Preferences

7. Gender

Do you feel more comfortable with a male or female doctor? Your doctor should make you feel comfortable and not like your privacy is being infringed upon.

8. Age

Do you prefer a young doctor or an older one with more motherly or fatherly tendencies? Consider which age group makes you feel more at ease.

9. Faith/Religion

If you feel a doctor who shares your faith beliefs will be able to walk with you better, look for one.

10. Your Instinct

Visit the doctor and trust your instinct, listen to your inner voice. Make sure you settle for a doctor who inspires confidence, and lets you know that you’ve been heard and are in safe hands.

All the best in your search.

Blessings,

Ess