We recently surveyed more than 900 women and found that while 80% had gone to their doctors for help with menopause, more than 60% weren’t able to have a supportive, honest discussion about menopause options.
There are many reasons why this is the case:
- Medical practitioners may still regard menopause as a disease that they need to treat, manage, or “fix.” This perspective can make it difficult to discuss concerns about menopause, which we know is much more complicated than simply resolving one issue.
- We may feel fine discussing some menopause symptoms, but feel embarrassed or scared to discuss others.
- We’re frustrated by being unable to effectively communicate our own experiences and knowledge about our bodies, as well as ideas about how we want to find improvement.
- Finally, in worst-case scenarios, women are dismissed by their doctors, talked down to, or sent off with prescriptions for birth control pills or antidepressants instead of real information or support for their natural choices.
You deserve to get the support you and your body need during menopause and perimenopause. Using the following information as a guide, you can have a more open, honest and effective conversation with your doctor or healthcare provider.
Preparing for your visit
You’ll have the most useful conversations with your medical practitioner if you go to your visits feeling prepared, confident, and ready to get the most out of your time with your doctor. You may want to schedule a 15-20 minute appointment/meeting with your doctor specifically to discuss your perimenopause or menopause symptoms. This gives you and your doctor the time and space to have a conversation.
There are several good ways to prepare. But first and foremost, we want to remind you to believe fully in your own knowledge of your body. Know that you are the only one who’s been living inside your body for all these years and you are the best judge of what will work for you.
Here are some ideas to think over:
- Understand your own expectations for menopause symptom relief and support (for example, to keep solutions as natural as possible).
- Make a list of everything you’d like to discuss or resolve at your doctor visit. As it’s common to be confused about menopause, you may want to talk with a friend or partner ahead of time about what you’d like from your doctor during the appointment.
- Consider your lifestyle habits before you go so you can share anything pertinent with your doctor. Some women tell us they are less than truthful when talking to their doctors about certain habits (alcohol, smoking, sugar consumption, exercise, supplements, etc.). Doctors and healthcare practitioners can provide the best help when they have all the facts.
- Take note of your symptoms and how you are feeling. Your doctor will most likely want to know the following:
- When did the symptom(s) start or when did you first notice it?
- Has the symptom changed or gotten worse since you noticed it?
- How would you describe the symptom(s)?
- What have you tried to find relief?
- Take our Hormonal Health Profile to gauge your symptoms, printing out your results to share with your doctor.
Getting the most out of your appointment
If you plan to come into this partnership with your own deep knowledge about yourself and your doctor coming in with her medical expertise — the possibilities are endless. Keep the following in mind to get the most out of your conversation with your doctor:
- Keep your list of things to discuss handy (out of your pocket or purse!) to make sure you go through every concern. This may sound obvious, but we know many women who make their lists then feel nervous or embarrassed to actually use them with their doctor.
- Let your doctor know up front if you prefer a natural approach and are willing to make lifestyle changes to support your health. It is helpful for a practitioner to know when a patient is ready to take extra steps toward better health.
- Again, be completely honest about the role you are willing and able to take in feeling better. Some of us are already overwhelmed by demanding jobs or family obligations, so taking on a daily exercise program and a diet overhaul may be too much at once.
- It’s okay to ask questions if you don’t understand the information the doctor gives you. Like everyone, some doctors are better communicators than others. Keep in mind doctors see a variety of people, some who want simple answers to questions such as “How do I know if I’m in menopause?” and others who want all the details — such as the individual complexities that come with menopause.
- Take notes, or tape-record the visit so that you can remember the details of your conversation.
Make it work for you
Your doctor ultimately wants what you want — for you to feel better. Communication is the best way to get there. By understanding your own wants and needs and where your doctor is coming from, you are more likely to get what you desire out of every doctor’s visit. Menopause may be a natural process, but symptoms can certainly disrupt our lives, and no matter how much you try to accomplish yourself, you need regular check-ups and care. Having a trusted medical partner who will work with you will make all the difference in finding the solutions that are right for you.