07 Nov How to Get a Second Gynaecology Opinion
Second opinion consultations in gynaecology
If you have been recommended a particular medical or surgical treatment for a gynaecological condition, be it endometriosis, adenomyosis, a fibroid, ovarian cyst or heavy periods, it is normal for many questions to arise. Common questions about the reason for the recommendation, what other options might be available, what the potential risks are and how much the treatment will be. It is also understandable that you may want a second opinion from a gynaecologist.
What is second opinion consultation?
A second opinion is when you visit another doctor eg. your GP or, a specialist to ask for their opinion. You may do this so you can compare their advice for you and your medical condition.
Often, the second opinion may be the same as that provided initially, thereby giving you confidence that you are making the right decision. At other times, the opinion may be different and you will gain a varied perspective of how to deal with your health condition.
Why don’t patients seek second opinion?
Getting a second opinion involves seeing yet another doctor, going through another consultation and examination which may be uncomfortable, so this is certainly not an easy option.
Some also feel awkward asking for a second opinion. They may have built trust and loyalty with their doctor. While the doctor and patient relationship should be based on mutual trust, you are certainly encouraged to ask your doctor questions, or even ask your doctor for a referral to a second opinion.
Why should you ask for a second opinion?
Most people have a doctor they trust, this is usually their family doctor or GP. When they have a gynaecological condition that is not improving with simple measures, and if they need surgery, they are referred to a specialist gynaecologist. This specialist may be chosen by your GP, recommended by family or friends, or now more frequently, found through the internet.
In the field of gynaecology, there is a broad variation in conditions that affect women. Depending on the type and volume of work a gynaecologist performs, their interests and training, it is common for different gynaecologists to become more experienced in certain conditions over others. So, while all gynaecologists maintain the basic skills and knowledge to start investigating and treating gynaecological conditions, they may not specialize in condition that you have. This discrepancy is often not easily apparent to your GP, family and friends, or online reviews.
Many patients are reluctant to challenge their doctor’s recommendation as they believe their doctor is up to date with the latest medical and surgical advancement but this is not always the case.
Even if the same treatment is recommended with two or sometimes more specialists, it is important to proceed with the one you trust and feel most comfortable with.
What should you ask your gynaecologist?
Many gynaecologists are also first and foremost obstetricians, they are experts in looking after women throughout pregnancy and childbirth. Gynaecology does not form a large part of their practice. While many gynaecological conditions may be treated in the office, not all are up to date with latest advancement in medical and in particular surgical treatments – including advancement in minimally invasive surgery such as complex hysteroscopic, laparoscopic and robotic surgery.
Some gynaecologists don’t practice obstetrics and solely practice gynaecology. As such, they have a high volume of experience in treating particular gynaecology conditions – such as endometriosis, fibroids, heavy periods and ovarian cysts. Some have further subspecialised in fertility treatment, cancer treatment, and treatment of urinary symptoms in women.
While all surgery carries associated risks, gynaecologists performing high volume surgery have been shown to have lower complication rates.
So do not hesitate to ask your gynaecologist how much of their work is gynaecology rather than obstetrics, what areas of gynaecology form their main bulk and focus of work, how frequently they perform a particular type of surgery, and what type of complications have they previously encountered.