Getting ready to talk to your healthcare provider about your menopause symptoms or questions? A little bit of preparation can help you get the most out of your visit.
Gather useful information before you go
Healthcare appointments can go by in a flash — the average primary care visit is only 17.4 minutes long! With so much packed into such a short time, it’s easy to forget what you wanted to say.
One way to make sure you don’t miss anything is to write down answers to the questions your doctor is likely to ask. Here are a few things to note and bring with you:
- Menopause symptoms you’re experiencing, including changes in your cycle, hot flashes, sleep issues, sexual problems, and mood concerns. Include anything you’ve noticed, even if you’re not sure it’s menopause-related.
- Medications you take, including prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, herbal remedies, and supplements.
- Your family health history, including things that are especially relevant around the time of menopause, such as heart and bone health and the ages your biological relatives began menopause (if you know).
- A record of your menstrual cycles if you’ve noticed changes, including when they began, how long they lasted, and whether they were heavy or light.
Prep your questions
Once you’ve got the important medical info written down, make notes of the questions you’d like to ask. Here are a few common ones:
- How can I tell if my symptoms are related to menopause or something else?
- How long should I expect these symptoms to last?
- What treatments do you recommend for my symptoms?
- What are the benefits and risks of the treatments you recommend?
- Do I need to continue using birth control? For how long? What method do you recommend?
- How does menopause impact my health risks?
- What health screenings should I be getting?
- What should I do now to lower my health risks through menopause and beyond?
Know that you have choices
When you talk with your doctor, don’t forget that menopause is a natural process, not a medical condition. And there’s no right or wrong way to go through it.
If you have preferences for how you want to manage symptoms, let your doctor know. For example, some people prefer hormone therapy because it’s a very effective treatment for hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and preventing bone loss. But others would rather skip prescription medications and lean into lifestyle changes or natural remedies that are backed by research.
Your healthcare provider is there to give you information and guide you to the safest, most effective treatments. But you are the expert on your body, preferences, and lifestyle. The choices are up to you.
Find the right doctor
If you don’t already have a trusted general practitioner or gynecologist, or if your doctor doesn’t seem to have the answers you need, it’s time to find someone new. Here are a few questions to ask as you consider a new provider:
- Do you have experience treating women through menopause?
- Do you have experience with patients with my health history?
- Can I call or message you when I have questions?
- What days and times do you see patients?
- Do you take my insurance?
What to do if talking about menopause is hard
In our society, talking about women’s reproductive and sexual health can be uncomfortable. On top of that, aging is a taboo subject, too. This can make it doubly difficult to have a conversation about menopause.
If talking to your doctor about menopause feels stressful, please remember that they have these conversations every day. They are not there to judge, just to help you be well and stay well.
Writing everything down in advance, so you can have all your thoughts in order, can help make the conversation go smoothly. You might even try talking through your questions with a friend or family member to practice and get ready to have a great chat with your healthcare provider.
Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team
- Tai-Seale, M., McGuire, T. G., & Zhang, W. (2007). Time allocation in primary care office visits. Health services research, 42(5), 1871–1894. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6773.2006.00689.x
- “Menopause.” Endocrine Society. Endocrine Society. https://www.endocrine.org/-/media/endocrine/files/patient-engagement/menopause-map/menopause_map_menopause_form.pdf.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Perimenopause.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. August 7, 2021. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/perimenopause/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354671.
- “Hormone Therapy: Benefits & Risks.” The North American Menopause Society. The North American Menopause Society. https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/menopause-symptoms-and-treatments/hormone-therapy-benefits-risks.
- “17 Questions to Ask When Choosing a New Doctor.” National Institute on Aging. National Institute on Aging. February 3, 2020. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/17-questions-ask-when-choosing-new-doctor.