Talking with Doctors
Important questions to ask your doctors.
The most important thing to remember when talking with doctors is that you’re the expert on you. Your participation and input are essential. Use these questions to keep track of things you might want to ask, and to add your own questions too.
- I know there might be a relationship between hormones and seizures, but I would like to learn more about it. How are hormones and seizures related?
- I have heard that there can be a relationship between a woman’s periods and seizures. How can we figure out if that’s the case for me?
- What types of birth control can help with seizures that occur around my period?
- I’ve heard women with epilepsy are at risk for PCOS or irregular periods. What signs should I look out for to see if those are issues for me?
- I’d like to talk more about getting on birth control, but I’m not sure who the best person to talk to about it is. What experience do you have helping women with epilepsy pick a birth control method that works for them?
- Birth control methods have lots of benefits and risks. What can you tell me about the benefits and risks of different birth control methods?
- Some types of birth control interact with some epilepsy medications. What can you tell me about interactions between my epilepsy medications and different birth control methods?
- Some women’s seizures get worse when they use hormonal birth control, some women’s get better, and some women’s seizures aren’t affected. What can you tell me about how my seizures might be affected by using hormonal birth control?
- I’d like to learn more about pregnancy. What are the risks involved with pregnancy or raising a child for me?
- I’m worried that if I get pregnant I will have a lot of seizures and hurt myself and the pregnancy. What kinds of things help prevent seizures during pregnancy?
- I know the risks are low, but I worry my medication will cause birth defects if I take it during pregnancy. Are there ways to reduce the risks of birth defects?
- Some people say women with epilepsy will have a hard time being moms. Have you worked with other women with epilepsy who have had kids? What were their experiences like?
- I know some people with epilepsy work with a team of doctors, like working together with a neurologist and a gynecologist. What is your experience working with other doctors?
- Are there other doctors you think it would be important for me to talk to? Who do you recommend?
- Is there any way that someone else from my health care team can join these appointments?
- How do you share information about my health with other doctors I’m working with?
Find the right doctor to talk to about your sexual health.
It’s totally up to you which of your doctors you talk to about your sexual health. Some teens like to talk to a gynecologist. Others talk with their neurologist. And still other teens reach out to their primary care physician or a nurse who’s an expert in different reproductive health issues. You could talk to just one of your doctors or to everyone on your health care team.
- Use the questions above to start a conversation about your needs.
- Print out the information from this website to help start a conversation.
- Switch to a new doctor who might be more helpful.
- Add another doctor to your health care team who you think might be more helpful.
- Ask your doctors to reach out to each other and talk over your care.
- Bring someone in to your appointments that you trust and can help you advocate for what you need and want.
Get the support you want and need.
Lots of teens like to involve a parent, guardian, or other support person in their health care. Friends, parents, siblings, boyfriends or girlfriends, and others can all be important resources. They can help you take notes, get you to your appointments, or they can be an ear to talk through your decisions. Only you can decide how or if you would like someone involved in your care. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor if someone you trust can join your appointments.
On the flip side, don’t be shy about telling doctors when you would like to talk with them privately. It’s okay if you feel more comfortable going to appointments alone or raising some questions without anyone else in the room.
My first two neurologists weren’t very sure about birth control effects on epilepsy. And my gynecologist at the time wasn’t real sure about epilepsy. Neurologists and gynecologists need to work together to figure out how birth control and epilepsy are related and how to minimize complications.
My neurologist has never talked to me about anything related to reproductive health. I wish he said more. I would like to know more because being a mother has been my dream since I was a little girl and I’m trying to stay safe, have my child at a safe time, and keep my body safe to have a healthy child. I’d like him to have given me more resources.
I feel more comfortable with my parents with me at the doctor’s office. I rely on my parents a lot and need them to be filled in with all of the information the doctor is giving me.
When I was younger I wanted my mom in my appointments and she was there. She was really supportive. But now I handle it all on my own.