Menopause can be a challenging time. The changes in your body can cause hot flashes, weight gain, difficulty sleeping, and even memory loss. As you enter menopause, you may have many questions you want to discuss with your OB-GYN. It’s important that you trust your OB-GYN so you can confide in them and ask them uncomfortable questions. The more open you are, the better they can guide you toward the right treatment.
Preparing for your appointment
It’s important that you’re honest with your OB-GYN. Don’t hold anything back. Your doctor will be able to provide better care if they have the full picture of your health.
Before every visit with your OB-GYN, have a strategy and write down a list of questions you want to cover. Also, keep track of any symptoms you’ve had and when you’ve experienced them. Use this information to start a discussion about symptoms that are bothering you, treatment options, and any other concerns you have about menopause.
At the appointment
Here are some tips for a productive appointment:
- Become an expert. Ask questions during your exam to better understand your health. And if you don’t understand the answer to a question, ask for clarification.
- Answer your doctor’s questions, too. Telling your doctor as much as you can about your health will help them prescribe the right treatment for you.
- Bring a full medication list. Certain drugs can interact with others, so tell your doctor about every medication you’re taking, even over-the-counter ones.
- Discuss your personal and family health history. Conditions like breast cancer and heart disease can impact your menopause treatment.
- Share details about your lifestyle. Tell your doctor if you drink or smoke and let them know your exercise and diet habits. They can use this information to guide your treatment.
- Schedule a follow-up visit. Before you leave, arrange a follow-up visit and find out the best way to reach your doctor. Sometimes busy OB-GYNs find it easier to respond to simple questions by email or phone, rather than in person.
Use these questions to help you start and maintain an open conversation with your OB-GYN:
- What tests will I need and why?
- What are my treatment options?
- Which treatment do you recommend based on my symptoms?
- How can this recommended treatment help me?
- What are possible side effects?
- How do I take this treatment?
- Can I get a second opinion?
- Can you recommend a therapist or counselor if I need more support?
- What’s the best way to reach you if I have more questions?
Discussing awkward subjects
You may not be comfortable discussing your sexuality with your doctor. However, it’s important to talk about your sexuality because menopause can lead to significant changes in your sex life.
Many postmenopausal women experience vaginal dryness. Over-the-counter lubricants and moisturizers can help counteract the dryness.
It’s your OB-GYN’s role to talk to you about your reproductive health. Don’t be shy or ashamed by what symptoms you’re experiencing. They’ve likely heard it before.
Each woman will experience menopause differently, so your treatment plan might not be the same as another woman’s. There are various treatments available for menopause symptoms, including:
- hormone replacement therapy
- over-the-counter medications
- herbs and supplements
- lifestyle changes, like altering your diet
Be sure to discuss the various treatment options with your doctor to create a treatment plan that’s best for you.
Don’t forget to address your overall health. Find out what screenings you’ll need for conditions that are common in postmenopausal women. This will help you prevent diseases like heart disease and cancer before they start.
Be sure to schedule a follow-up appointment with your OB-GYN to monitor your progress and see how certain treatments are affecting you. Don’t think of menopause as the end of youth. View it as the beginning of yet another new phase in a long, healthy life.