Risk Factors

I went to a new gynecologist today. I hate going to a new gynecologist, because of all the explaining and forms that don't have enough space for the trauma my reproductive system both received and inflicted. 

But, when your current gynecologist is in international news for biologically fathering quite a few children with his own sperm while telling parents that it was from a university sperm donor, even if that happened in the 1980s, you need to find a new practice. (Seriously. I can imagine he never thought a service like 23 & Me would exist in the future, that people looking to see their ethnic heritage would find out that they're actually 50% unethical doctor.) 

So I went on a colleague's recommendation and went to a new practice that I was assured would not be led by a Sperminator nor be a shrine to pregnancy and breastfeeding, like one practice I briefly went to at the tail end of infertility treatments. It was a very pleasant building, lots of lilac purple and gender-affirming signage. 

But man oh man, I hate those forms. I stopped listing all the IVF-related surgical procedures individually and just labeled it "2010 - 2015 -- oodles of egg retrievals, hysteroscopies, perincentesis due to OHSS." Somewhere I have the complete list, but I don't think it's necessary anymore. I list my hysterectomy, my ectopic laparoscopy, my laparoscopy in 1999 that was exploratory to rule out endometriosis (the male doctor didn't find any, so he told me "some women just have pain" and dismissed me. I found a new doctor.). I hate listing two pregnancies and no live births. I did find my blog useful in looking up the dates, which I'm grateful to say I don't hold all the time anymore. I found my camera roll helpful in remembering exactly when my hysterectomy was (2019). 

After writing it all out, I got to explain it again verbally. I was already exhausted from the forms, so I got teary. It's just so much to hold when you have to recount it all at once. 

But, it was interesting, because I asked about getting an ultrasound of my ovaries as part of my exam since I am worried about ovarian cancer given the massive amount of hormones I've pumped myself full of and the insane number of follicles I've stimulated in a relatively short time. I expected her to possibly pooh-pooh me and maybe humor me but make it clear this was my anxiety talking. 

Instead, she said, "That's perfectly reasonable. You are right to be concerned. Make sure you get a mammogram regularly and we can baseline your ovaries and check them. That's perfectly rational." 

WHAT THE HELL. I mean, I know I'm not totally nuts to be worried, but it was somewhat sobering to have my fears validated. Not catastrophized, but validated. 

PLEASE ASK YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT CHECKING YOUR OVARIES if you've done a fair amount of follicle stimulation during infertility treatments. It's worth the ask. I will take all the peace of mind I can get. She also said that most breast cancer cases are people who have no family history, and to be vigilant about checking my breasts and even if I've had a recent clear mammogram call if there's anything fishy. 

I really enjoyed this new doctor. She took me seriously, no one in her staff said anything stupid, not even "did you think about adoption?" I may have verbally vomited all over the ultrasound technician, but she was empathetic and not judgy at all. It's always fun to be asked when your last menstrual period was and then reply "early spring 2019, before my hysterectomy." It's weird that the only thing they can look at is ovaries, and for some reason it was hard to find them. I guess that's better than finding them right away because they're ginormous and tumor-y? 

One more advice piece I got -- Vitamin D3. Take it. It's apparently vital for immune function and helps fight against all the cancers I'm most scared of (breast, ovarian, colon). Good for bones too, can't absorb calcium without it. I always mean to take it and then am terrible about remembering, but she recommended Vitafusion gummies. If I have to pretend it's candy, it will be easier to remember. Makes total sense. 

So, get your boobies checked, get your ovaries checked, get a gynecologist who doesn't share DNA everywhere, and then contemplate taking a nap after your appointment because it was so emotionally exhausting. Or, go grocery shopping the day before a snowstorm after because the stress of that experience will take your mind off things, ha. Having a good doctor is everything. I'm so glad I found a new one.


  1. Glad you had a decent experience. That sucks to have to relive all that history, even when one of the main organs involved is no longer a player. Hopefully not necessary again!

    I worry about ovarian cancer too; it’s so sneaky and deadly. Just last year a prominent Canadian doctor my age died of it, and within a year or two of being diagnosed. This was after Dani randomly picked up Gilda Radner’s autobiography in a little library and I started reading it and couldn’t put it down. I’ve been slowly coming to terms with my mortality for about 10 years at least but reading women’s personal stories makes it real in another way. I will continue to bring up ovaries at my doctor appointments and pay attention to all the bits as I can!

  2. Your new doctor's office sounds like a real find, which is great for you but kinda sad in the scheme of things because shouldn't all offices have staff trained in being not only sensible but also sensitive?

    I almost ruined my computer screen with "50% unethical doctor.' Thanks a lot, Jess.

  3. Glad about your new doctor. Much better than the criminally insane Sperminator-led one you had. And yes to the ovarian cancer. I worry about it, but haven't had anything checked. I suspect here we have to have symptoms to get checked, but by then it is too late. I might talk to my GP about it, after the Omicron surge here is over.

  4. Thank goodness for medical practices like the one you have now.

  5. Oh, I'm so glad you had a good experience with your new doctor! (endless forms aside) Especially when your previous one turned out to be such a creep (even if it wasn't with you personally). You're right, a good doctor makes ALL the difference. We love our family dr -- he's back in our old community, but he's well worth the drive.

    FYI -- the boobs are scheduled to be squished at the end of the month, and I'm having a colonoscopy as well the week before that, just to keep things interesting. ;)

  6. Good advice! I started taking extra vitamin D a few months ago when I read it can also help against bad Covid outcomes. I'm glad your new doctor seems good so far. It's actually scary how many male gynos used their own sperm and tricked women- I've heard several cases of it!