If you come ready, confident and prepared for your doctor’s appointment, you’ll be able to get as much useful information from your doctor as you can. To prepare for your appointment, there are several ways to do it. Here are some of them:
- Know your own outlook for support and relief for your menopause symptoms – This can mean keeping the means of relief and support as natural as possible.
- Write down in a journal or diary a list of things to discuss with your doctor during your appointment – This can be the ways to address potential problems during menopause
- Write down or remember your lifestyle habits – This means you need to be as honest as possible with your doctor. If for example, you are a cigarette smoker, often drink alcohol or eat lots of sugar regularly, you need to let your doctor know. Never water down any facts or information about yourself. Doctors often give the best treatment for their patients when they are given truthful information by their patient.
- Write down in the journal/diary your symptoms and how you are feeling – your physician will most probably ask you these questions:
- When did you first start noticing your symptoms?
- Have the symptoms improved or got worse since you first noticed them?
- Describe to me your symptoms
- What medications and products have you used to seek relief?
When you come in for your appointment make sure you bring your journal/diary with you. Do not feel ashamed or embarrassed of things about you that your doctor may need to know to better understand your condition. Use your journal/diary if they contain answers to some of your doctor’s question. You can tell your doctor upfront that you are willing to make changes in your lifestyle if that means the treatment of your symptoms. This will help you and your doctor to easily solve your menopausal problems. If you are willing to change your diet into a healthier and more balanced one and if you are also willing to perform certain exercises regularly, that will lead to a quicker resolution of your symptoms.
You need to ask questions if you do not understand the information your physician tells you. Let him know that you need to completely understand every bit of information he gives you. You can record what he says in a tape recorder or write down information in your journal/diary.
You’ll probably talk to your primary care provider first who may then refer you to a gynecologist.
In preparing for your doctor’s appointment, you can monitor and record the symptoms and signs of your perimenopause/menopause and your menstrual cycles for several months. This will give you a better perspective of the changes your body is undergoing during perimenopause and have important information to give your doctor.
In your journal/diary record your menstruation periods for a few months and include also the initial and final date of bleeding for your menstrual period. Indicate whether the bleeding was light, mild or substantial. Write down all the symptoms you have noticed and also all of your premenstrual symptoms. List down all the supplements and medications (over-the-counter and prescription) you are taking.
Some of the questions you can ask your doctor can include:
- Am I going through menopause or not?
- Are my bleedings due to menopause or from some other condition?
- What other changes in my body do I need to expect?
- Do you consider hormone therapy a good way to address my menopausal symptoms?
- What can I do to stop or minimize my hot flashes?
- What physical activity or diet modifications can I make to stay healthy and minimize my symptoms and/or complications from menopause?
- Can you recommend alternative therapies such as acupuncture or herbal medicines to help treat my symptoms?
- What other means can I avail of to feel more comfortable?
- How can I prevent or treat my osteoporosis?
- What do I need to do to lessen the risk for cardiovascular diseases?
Questions your doctor may ask
To better understand your perimenopausal/menopausal phase, your physician may ask you certain questions. These can include:
- Do you still get periods of menstruation? If yes, describe them (are they light, moderate or heavy?)
- What kind of symptoms do you experience?
- How long have you experienced these symptoms?
- Have these symptoms been distressful for you?
- Do you take supplements and/or medications for your symptoms? If yes, what are they?
Alida van Heerden is a licensed New York acupuncturist and a NADA certified acupuncture detoxification specialist.