At the best of times, it can be difficult to talk to doctors about what’s going on with us. And during menopause it can become almost impossible. Here’s how you can prepare for a discussion of your menopausal symptoms with your health care provider:
Track your symptoms at least a month in advance, and don’t just dismiss them as signs of aging. We deserve to feel good and don’t have to “just push through”. There’s a very good tracking app called Balance, or just keep a note of your symptoms each day in your calendar or in a notebook (I’m old school, so that’s how I do it).
Write down a list of your symptoms, concerns, and questions ahead of time. Be aware of the symptoms of menopause, there are many and some may be unexpected (see the FAQs section here on the website to find a list of them).
Choose a doctor, if at all possible a woman in her 50s, who will have real-life experience of what you’re talking about, who actively listens to you and is willing to discuss ALL the options. Change your doctor if you’re not getting what you need from them. If there’s a menopause clinic in your area, make an appointment there – they’re the experts…
Get to the appointment in good time, do a breathing exercise or a body scan in the waiting room to make sure you are calm and get the most out of the appointment. For a simple breathing exercise see the Tips and tricks section here on the website.
Go with an outcome in mind – what are you looking for? Advice? A specific kind of treatment? Discuss the risks and benefits of each treatment option.
Do your research first so you can have an informed conversation and explore with the doctor what is best for you. Be open to what the doctor advises and if you have doubts, express them AND double check for yourself later on official online pages such as the NHS’.
Try to be open, honest and firm about your experiences and concerns. Don’t hold back, the doctor can only help well if they have all the information.
Be specific about your symptoms, such as when they started, how often they occur, and how they impact your daily life. Have your app or your notebook with you so you can refer to it or show it to the doctor.
Share your family history of menopause and any relevant medical conditions. Make sure you’ve spoken to your mother and older sisters about their experiences in advance.
Discuss any previous treatments or therapies you have tried for menopause symptoms.
Ask for a referral to a specialist if you have specific concerns or questions that your doctor cannot address.
Ask for regular follow-up appointments (at least once a year, better twice) to monitor your progress and adjust treatment plans as needed.
I hope this has been helpful and wish you all the best for your next appointment.