By: Red Hot Mamas
Published: October 11, 2023
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower”
– Albert Camus
Dear Red Hot Mamas,
I remember a time, back in the day, when going to the doctor for a check-up was a very quick, easy visit usually ending with a pat on the back or a simple handshake. If the doctor wanted me to take a particular medication, I did it without questioning it. If he/she wanted me to come back in two weeks, I would make the trip. At that time, I felt comfortable in having my doctor make decisions on my behalf. I obviously had a one-sided doctor-dominated relationship.
However, I’m much older now and my personal involvement in my own health care decisions has completely evolved. These days, I am more assertive, more attentive, more inquisitive, and much more involved. I go to the doctor bearing a list of questions and try to team up with my doctor rather than have him/her make all the decisions for me. I’ve learned that mutual participation and shared decision-making was a good alternative to the passivity which I had in the past.
I believe that women, like me, who are more active participants in their own care have better outcomes than those who are not actively engaged. Especially this is true at menopause, when we are faced with making our own individual set of medical choices. The experience of menopause is different for everyone, including the actual decision-making process as to how to best manage its course. So, I have come up with some suggestions when you visit your doctor at menopause.
You might consider using this information as a guide when starting a conversation about menopause with your doctor.
Describe the Problem
Perimenopause and menopause can also affect your body in other ways, which may cause a variety of symptoms. You must be able to communicate to your doctor what specific problems you are experiencing. Be prepared to accurately describe in detail the symptoms you are experiencing.
Here are some common symptoms of menopause that you can describe to your doctor:
- Irregular periods that may become heavier or lighter.
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Difficulty sleeping
- Mood changes
- Low energy
- Problems with concentration and memory
- Urinary problems
- Vaginal dryness or discomfort
- Pain during sex
- Changes in libido
- Joint pain or stiffness
Write down the frequency and time of day you experience symptoms and if you know of anything that may be triggering your symptoms. Share this information with your doctor.
And remember, for all these symptoms there is a fix. So please speak about them with your doctor and do not suffer in silence. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, medications, or other treatments to help manage your symptoms.
Be prepared to give information about your health including:
- Your medical history and your family’s
- Allergies you have
- Medications you currently are taking.
- Your daily habits
- Your work
- Stresses/pressures you are under
Ask for a Diagnosis.
To verify a diagnosis that you’re in the menopause transition, your provider may order laboratory tests to check your hormone levels and rule out other causes of your symptoms, such as thyroid disease, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Other health conditions can also cause changes in your menstrual period or symptoms like menopause. That’s why it’s so important to talk with your doctor about changes in your health.
Questions to ask your doctor about menopause:
- What should I do if I develop new symptoms?
- What steps can I take to manage my symptoms- lifestyle changes, medications or other treatments?
- What are the potential benefits, risks, side effects of each treatment?
- How long does it take for the treatment to work?
- What is the cost of the treatment?
- What are some other steps I can take to manage menopause and stay healthy through my menopausal years and beyond?
Find a doctor you feel comfortable with
You might consider visiting a menopause specialist. And if you don’t like the doctor’s knowledge about menopause or communication skills, look for a new doctor.
Good Health to You All,