You are the only expert when it comes to your own experience inside your body. You alone can articulate how you feel, where things hurt, and what makes your quality of life better or worse. Why, then, are we not the advocates for our own health? As women, we are often expected not to understand the workings of our own bodies. And to a certain extent, we don’t – there are, of course, doctors and health professionals for a reason. But time and time again, women’s lived experiences are ignored, or cast aside by those in control when it comes to determining our health needs. Being your own wellness advocate is about taking back that power. 

We need to stand up for ourselves and advocate for our own health to ensure we receive the best possible care. Self-advocacy is a way of taking an active role in your own health, ensuring your human rights to fair treatment and care are respected, and shifting the inherent power dynamic back towards your favor. Read on to learn more about being your own wellness advocate.

Go shopping for doctors

The most important thing you can do to ensure your healthcare needs are accurately assessed is to find a doctor you trust. This goes for any type of doctor – physician, therapist, dentist, chiropractor – the list goes on. Some women prefer a male doctor, while others may prefer a female  one. Sometimes a doctor seems great over the phone, but you just don’t click when you meet face-to-face. Whatever you’re shopping for, it’s okay to try out a few different options before finding the one that’s right for you.

It’s also okay if your needs change, and as such, your requirements from a healthcare provider do, too. Consistently check in with yourself and your experience after each visit, and assess whether you felt positively about your interactions with your healthcare providers. If you didn’t, it may be time to start looking for a new one.

Do your research

Knowledge is your greatest resource when it comes to your health. Research your diagnosis, the medications you’re prescribed, and your symptoms. Monitor yourself carefully and write down anything out of the ordinary. If your doctor wants to change your prescription, or recommends a certain diet, look into it yourself before you do it. 

Of course, your healthcare provider is incredibly knowledgeable and is there to help you, but remember that they see thousands of patients. They are busy, and sometimes things slip or get missed. You are the only one with a solely-vested interest in you. Therefore, having a solid understanding of your possible conditions, where and how often your symptoms are present, and what different medications are available for those symptoms will allow you to have a more informed and productive conversation with your doctor, which may then help your doctor make the best possible decision for you. 

Thorough research can also help you find potential natural additions to your wellness and self-care plan. For example, multivitamins like these are great for ensuring you get your daily dose of important vitamins. CBD supplements such as biocbd+ Total Body Care can provide you with an overall wellness boost for both body and soul. Reading product reviews and ingredients lists will help you make the most informed decision about any new additions to your wellness care plan. Make sure you also inform your doctor if you are taking any supplements. This could have an effect on your recommended dietary or medicinal plans.

Request any necessary accommodations beforehand

A major part of being your own wellness advocate is being proactive in almost everything. To avoid wasting any time or having to reschedule an appointment, make sure your clinic, hospital, or other wellness institution is aware of any accommodations you may need (or may be bringing with you) before your appointment. This includes any disability-based accommodations, such as wheelchair access, or other things like a language interpreter. You are responsible for making sure you have everything you need to make your visit as productive as possible. Don’t assume your doctor’s office will already have these accommodations available. 

Trust yourself and your intuition

A common problem within the healthcare system lies within the difference between women’s and men’s healthcare. There are so many inherent biological differences between our bodies. This means that what works for a man’s body may not always work for a woman’s. This is why it’s so important to trust yourself and what you are experiencing as the patient. Your doctor is only able to address what you can articulate. If they don’t understand your explanation, or if they aren’t listening to it, then you aren’t getting the best possible care. 

At the end of the day, if you feel you aren’t being taken seriously, or if your concerns are being dismissed, don’t just accept it. Persist in your questioning, and don’t stop until you have answers. If you feel dissatisfied with your doctor’s response, get a second opinion. Being your own wellness advocate can be time-consuming and exhausting, but remember: you only get one life. Advocate for it.