We chatted with Dr. Constants Adams, Obstetrician-Gynecologist (OBGYN) who values patient-centered care. She believes in empowering patients through sharing her knowledge and expertise while incorporating their voice to address their concerns and needs. Learn more about her work @drconnietheob.
1. What sparked your interest in having a career in women's health?
I first became interested in becoming a doctor from the experiences I had as a child living in a home my mother ran for women battling addiction who were HIV positive. This first exposure to women’s health disparities sparked my interest in medicine. These experiences set the foundation for a lifelong passion to alleviate disparities, specifically those that affect women. When I began my OBGYN rotation, I immediately knew that this field was meant for me.
Obstetrics and gynecology (OBGYN) is the one specialty that encompasses everything I love about medicine: the ability to intervene early and provide counseling to prevent disease, empowering a woman to protect her own body with birth control and condoms, immediate gratification in removing fibroids to alleviate a patient’s pain, and saving lives, better yet helping mothers bring life into the world. I have the opportunity to support women in their happiest and most devastating times. I can deliver their children, operate when needed and provide support through loss, cancer and more. I am lucky to work with teenagers to grandmothers and see the full spectrum of a woman’s life. These relationships are often lifelong and are invaluable. Being an OBGYN is unparalleled.
2. How has your health as a Black Woman influence how you show up for other women's health?
When I walk into a doctor’s office they often are unaware that I am a physician. So I have experienced first hand physicians not listening to me and downplaying my symptoms. Until I disclose my profession, to them I am just another patient. My education has afforded me the ability to advocate on my behalf, however most Black women don’t have this - and knowing first hand how it feels to be ignored, placated and patronized I have made it my mission to never put my patients in that position. My patient care philosophy is that when you come to me with a concern, my job is to listen, evaluate and present you with all options. Then we come up with a plan together to address your concern. This is not a one sided relationship. We work together as a team to reach a common goal: your optimal health.
3. What is one piece of advice that you hold dear to you about your health as a woman?
You know your body better than anyone else. Listen to it and when you know that something is off let your provider know. If they don’t listen, continue to advocate and find someone who will. Too often women ignore symptoms or are turned away, only to suffer as a result.
4. What mental health issues can cause hormonal imbalance? (ex: stress, anxiety, etc)
Stress can have a tremendous impact on the body. It can lead to weight gain, loss of appetite, abnormal periods and can impact every aspect of your health. Many people suffer from depression and you would be surprised how that can impact your body.
5. Health wise, what is something that women should be more aware of that they may overlook when going to the gynecologist?
Abnormal bleeding is something that many women experience, but few discuss. This may range from your periods suddenly becoming heavier to absent or bleeding after menopause. Having consistent changes in your menstrual cycle may be a sign of an underlying condition, so it’s important to tell your doctor what you’ve experienced. Keep a log, that way if something is off you can review with your provider and they can diagnose what the cause may be.
People should also be aware of painful periods and pain with intercourse. Both are common and can be concerning for an underlying condition. Examples of underlying conditions that may cause these symptoms include, but are not limited to: fibroids, endometriosis and infection.
One should also be sure to communicate to your gynecologist any unintentional passage of urine or stool.
6. What do you say to someone that may have anxiety about going in for an OB/GYN check-up?
People often feel nervous about visiting the OBGYN. Our office is meant to be a safe space. We want, in fact, need you to be vulnerable and honest with us about your health so that we can address your concerns. No subject is off limits.
7. As we know many black women experience fibroids in their lives, what are signs to look out for if one thinks they may or may not have fibroids?
Fibroids can present in a number of ways, depending on their location. Some of the most common signs of fibroids are heavy bleeding and pain. However people may also experience pelvic pressure, increased urinary frequency, constipation or infertility.
8. What hormonal issues could affect mental health?
Hormonal imbalance occurs when too little or too much hormone is released by the endocrine system. This imbalance can play a huge role in mental health. Examples include hypo and hyperthyroidism which may lead to depression and anxiety. In women, changes in estrogen or progesterone can be seen at various stages in life including when starting birth control, postpartum or menopause. These changes may lead to insomnia, alterations in mood, anxiety or depression. If you begin to feel these symptoms let your doctor know so that we can help diagnose and intervene sooner rather than later.