Self-advocacy is one way that you can fight for yourself. You may already be a self-advocate, and not know it. Like most of us at one time or another, you may also be falling short, when it comes to fine-tuning your ability to be heard, and to speak up for your own self-interest.
Our founder is cancer-free in no small part because of self-advocacy. Speaking up and asking questions is a key part in making sure that professionals in medicine, technology and science work for you, and with you. Between our DNA kit and our free app, MedAnswers aims to provide our users with as much information as possible – so we can all be our best advocates. But for those who are not yet registered with the app (why not, though? 😉), here are a few tips for how you, too, can be your own champion:
Don’t be afraid to question the experts
It’s important to make sure that you fully trust your doctors, specialists and other experts. This trust, however, does not mean you should not also ask them questions when they arise. This is your body, your future and your treatment. There’s a very good chance that your fertility specialist is new to treating you and therefore might not be aware of past reactions you have had to similar medications or familial histories that could be relevant. If you feel that there is something that should be included in a discussion, or are curious if it could be relevant – speak up. The expert is there to provide information and ask questions relevant to their expertise – and guess what? You are the only expert on you.
The best experts welcome second opinions
Seeing a doctor is just like dating. Well – not exactly like it, mainly just in one specific way: It’s helpful to be aware of your options and to ensure that you are in the right pairing for you. In fact, the right doctor – the one you adore, trust and couldn’t imagine doing this without – should encourage seeking a second opinion. This does not mean you are leaving them. Just that you are going to return with more information and possibly, more options to pursue together. As a best practice, especially if you are not looking to change care providers, is to let both your primary specialist and the secondary specialist know the situation. This way everyone is aware they are entering a collaborative relationship where everyone wants what it best for you.
If seeing a secondary specialist doesn’t sound like the route for you, please feel free to visit our free app where over 125 fertility specialists are waiting with answers to questions, concerns and even – if the relevant information is provided – second opinions.
Your goals, instincts and emotions are VALID
All of your goals, instincts and emotions are significant. Some of your goals may be more attainable than others, but that’s where an empathetic professional can best help you. No matter what you’re feeling or wish to achieve, your goals, instincts and emotions should never be invalidated but rather, addressed, discussed, and acted upon. Whatever you’re feeling it’s valid. How you get to your goals may be up for debate but never, ever let anyone tell you you don’t have the right to try.
Find your fertility tribe
We all know the numbers, one in eight couples struggle with infertility and for those who are able to conceive, 10-15 of every 100 leads to miscarriage. We bring this up only as a reminder that you are not alone. Being your own advocate should not be lonely either. In fact, surrounding yourself with like-minded people who are going through or have gone through what you are, is one of the best ways to make sure you are getting the care you need. Finding your tribe will not only provide you emotional support but could also bolster your self-confidence when you’re struggling with self-advocacy.
It’s important to note, not everyone is comfortable being open about their struggles with fertility. That’s okay, and the reason why posting your questions on the FertilityAnswers app is completely anonymous! Even quietly scrolling through the #TTCWarrior tag on Instagram can give you the strength to speak up. Take small steps and see how wonderfully supported you can feel.
Do your research
Last, but certainly not least: Read everything you can that comes from trusted sources. There are mountains of research and valleys of blogs to wade through, but lots of it includes misinformation. Read on, but with a discerning eye. There’s no such thing as having too many questions when you visit your specialist, and doing research will help you come up with educated, relevant questions you may not have otherwise considered.
Self-advocacy doesn’t need to be a bold, dramatic, outbursts or confrontation. It can be quiet. It can be subtle. It can be whatever you need it to be in order to ensure that you are getting the best care, advice, and input possible. Self-advocacy also doesn’t have to be done alone. We would love to help you build your fertility tribe, but do so where you feel most comfortable. Your journey is yours, and nobody can take that away.