RESOURCE: Managing Medical Appointments and Navigating NaPro
So many pieces
Fertility-related doctor’s appointments can be overwhelming and stressful. So much seems to be at stake, outcomes don’t always meet our expectations, and follow-up steps may be recommended that end up taxing our emotional and physical resources further. While there’s no way to remove all of the strain and complications, there are many things you can do in order to get the most out of these appointments while also minimizing the emotional impact as much as possible.
Tips for navigating fertility appointments
1) Plan a reward Fertility appointments can be extremely emotionally taxing so plan a reward for after your appointment that will give you something to look forward to and help you to relax/manage your stress. This could include ideas such as a coffee shop break on your own, a date with your spouse, or going for a run.
2) Come prepared
When possible, see if your spouse can attend with you. This will help you to act as a team and will provide important emotional support.
Keep a notebook specifically for these appointments and spend time beforehand with your spouse, listing the goals you have for the appointment as well as any questions you hope to have answered. Make note of any items from the last appointment that you need to follow up on (bloodwork, results of medication, etc). During the appointment, take notes on all of the doctor’s answers, comments and recommendations. Don’t trust yourself to remember it later!
If you are seeing a NaProTechnology doctor, bring your completed Creighton charts and relevant data from your FertilityCare practitioner to your appointment. Create a “chart summary” which lists the data from your FCP.
Create your own “results chart” with bloodwork and testing results ordered by date. Include on this chart when you started specific medications, what the results were, and when medications were stopped.
Bring a folder of hard copies of past test results (ie: pelvic ultrasounds).
3) Speak up
Remind your doctor of the reason for your current appointment and any items you need to follow up on from your last appointment.
Don’t be afraid to gently correct your doctor if they misremember any information (ie: mixing up hormone levels, suggesting a diagnosis that they previously ruled out, or suggesting a medication that didn’t work for you in the past.)
Ask your doctor to explain the rationale behind recommended testing/treatment.
Mention any questions or concerns you have regarding recommended testing, medications or treatments.
Request hard copies of post-operative notes, ultrasound scans, etc for your records.
4) Communicate with your spouse
Before your appointment, let your spouse know what kind of support you will need during and after the appointment. For example: “During the appointment, I need you to back me up when I mention my concerns about x”; “I am so stressed after appointments. It would help if you could give me a huge hug and let me know we are in this together and if we can plan something to look forward to next week.”
Try to set aside a half an hour or so directly after the appointment to touch base with your spouse. This could be a debrief over a coffee or a short walk before you each head back to work or the busyness of your day. Ask them how they are feeling and discuss any questions or concerns that either of you have regarding the results or recommendations made during the appointment.
5) Summarize and plan next steps
During your debrief with your spouse, jot down any questions or concerns in your notebook before you forget them.
Once you have more time later on, review the next steps you will need to take, when they need to be completed and who is responsible for each one. For example: “I will go for my bloodwork next Friday. Can you make a note to call this week to schedule your testing?”
The remaining pages of this resource can be used as templates in your own notes or taken as a guide when setting up documents of your own.
Appointment planner, appointment notes and appointment debrief: print a number of blank copies of these to keep in your folder and fill out for future consultations.
Hormone level tracker, testing and mediation tracker and chart summary: either print these to keep in your folder and complete by hand, or set up your own versions that can be updated and shared with your medical team at appointments.
Click here to download your own printable “Managing Medical Appointments and Navigating Napro” worksheets in order to access the templates mentioned above.
For further resources to help you along the infertility journey, check out our Resources Page.