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Endometriosis: 5 Considerations When Seeking a Second Opinion

Endometriosis: 5 Considerations When Seeking a Second Opinion

What to think about when you are thinking about a second opinion for endometriosis.

In medicine, a second opinion is an opinion from a healthcare provider other than your current healthcare provider. The goal of getting a second opinion is to learn more about your health, reinforce what is already known, and identify opportunities for different treatment options.

People seek second opinions for many different health conditions, and endometriosis is no exception. Endometriosis is often painful and potentially damaging to the female reproductive organs, and symptoms and severity can vary widely from person to person. It is also not well understood. Research about endometriosis is ongoing, but the cause of the condition remains unknown, and there is no known cure (though it can be treated and managed).

If you are considering getting a second opinion for endometriosis, here are five things to consider, which may help make the process a little easier.

Uncertainty may be enough
There are a number of reasons people seek second opinions. A person might be unsatisfied with their current healthcare provider or they might want to work with a healthcare provider who has more experience in treating their condition. A person might not be responding to treatment, want to explore other treatment options, or have reservations about starting a treatment or undergoing surgery. It might be better not to overthink your reasons for wanting a second opinion—simply feeling uncertain about your diagnosis, care, or treatment may be reason enough.

Don’t feel guilty
Some people feel guilty about getting a second opinion. They may feel as they are going behind their healthcare provider’s back, are going to offend their healthcare provider, or that they are being a bad patient by failing to trust their healthcare provider. While it may be easier said than done, it is necessary to get past these feelings—they are not adequate reasons to avoid seeking a second opinion.

As a patient, it is important to advocate for yourself and make the best decision for your health. A major part of that is finding a healthcare provider who you trust and feel comfortable working with. The literature about endometriosis is filled with multiple examples of women who have gone years of being misdiagnosed or under-diagnosed—years they spent coping with symptoms like severe pain and fertility issues—before finding a healthcare provider who understands the condition.

Talk to your insurance company
Insurance policies can be complicated in terms of what is covered and when. It is a good idea to contact your insurance provider before scheduling a healthcare appointment and ask if second opinions are covered under your policy and if you need preauthorization. In some cases, an insurance company may require a second opinion.

Another reason to consult your insurance company: Finding a healthcare provider where you can get a second opinion. You may already have a provider in mind, or you may not. If you have a provider in mind, check if they are in-network for your insurance company. An out-of-network provider will be more expensive. If you are looking for a different healthcare provider, start with a list of your insurance company’s in-network providers.

Find the right healthcare provider
When seeking treatment for endometriosis, you will want a healthcare provider or providers who are knowledgeable about the condition and the current treatments. You will also want them to have the general qualities you look for in any healthcare provider—you want someone who listens to you, who takes your concerns seriously, and treats you with compassion. Endometriosis support groups, online forums for patients, advocacy organizations, and the people you know can be helpful resources when seeking a healthcare provider.

Specific to endometriosis, you will want a healthcare provider who is a surgeon, or works on a team that includes a surgeon, as treatment may involve surgery (typically laparoscopic surgery).

Have your paperwork ready
When seeking a second opinion or switching healthcare providers, having copies of all the paperwork related to your diagnosis will make the process much easier. This includes copies of imaging tests, blood work, notes about your symptoms, notes about healthcare appointments, and lists of any medications you are taking (both prescription and over-the-counter). Do not hesitate to ask your healthcare providers for any copies of documents you are missing—federal law ensures that you have the right to receive copies of your medical records.

Medically reviewed in December 2019.

Sources:
NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms. "Second opinion."
UpToDate. "Patient education: Endometriosis (Beyond the Basics)."
MedlinePlus. "Endometriosis."
Office on Women's Health. "Endometriosis."
University of Rochester Medical Center. "The Value of a Second Opinion."
Cleveland Clinic. "Why You Should Consider a Second Medical Opinion."
Endometriosis Foundation of America. "Women With Endometriosis Share Their
Painfully Long Journey to Diagnosis."
Cigna. "Getting a Second Opinion."
Endometriosis.org. "Finding an endometriosis specialist."
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. "Your Medical Records."

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