You might have visited an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN) for the first time when you were in your teens or early 20s. Back then, your biggest concerns were likely your period, choice of birth control, or pregnancy.
When you’re transitioning to menopause, your OB-GYN is an important partner in your care. During this phase in your life, you may have a lot of new issues to discuss. But first, you need to make sure you’re going to the right doctor. You might have moved to a new city and don’t yet have an OB-GYN. Or maybe you don’t think the OB-GYN who’s guided you through earlier phases of life is the best one to help you through menopause.
Your decision to stay with your old OB-GYN or find a new one should be based on your doctor’s expertise and your relationship with them. Whatever your reason for wanting a new OB-GYN, here’s a guide to help you find a doctor you trust.
Consider asking your family doctor, family members, friends, or co-workers for a recommendation for a local OB-GYN. You can talk to them about their experiences with the provider to learn if they might be a good fit for you.
Another good place to start is a professional organization, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) or the North American Menopause Society (NAMS). ACOG has a directory of OB-GYNs who are certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. You can search it by state, zip code, or name.
NAMS also has a database of menopause specialists that you can search online. “One of the things we offer through the Society is a certification process in menopause,” says Margery L.S. Gass, M.D., NCMP, the executive director of NAMS. All of their certified menopause practitioners have passed a validated exam, and they maintain their certification by taking specialized courses on menopause.
Once you’ve found an OB-GYN in your area that sounds like a good fit on paper, set up an appointment to meet them. Bring a list of questions to ask. For example:
- How long have you been practicing obstetrics and gynecology?
- Where did you receive training and certification?
- What kind of menopause-specific training have you had?
- How much of your practice is focused on menopause?
- What is your approach to treating women in menopause?
- What kinds of treatments do you prefer?
- Which hospital(s) are you affiliated with?
- What are your office hours?
- Who covers for you when you’re away from your office?
- Do you accept my insurance?
After the interview, ask yourself a few questions. For example:
- How do I feel about this doctor?
- Would I be comfortable talking with them about personal issues, including sexuality?
- Will they be available if I need help outside of office hours?
- Does their office staff seem helpful and accessible?
Meet with a few OB-GYNs before you make your final decision. Make sure you choose a doctor who’s up-to-date on the latest menopause research. You want choose someone who can tailor the most current treatments to your personal needs.
Remember, once you’ve picked an OB-GYN, you don’t have to stay with them forever. If you find that you’re not getting the care you need, start your search again. Getting support from an OB-GYN can help make your menopause transition easier. They can help you get the information and treatment you need to manage menopause-related changes in your body and lifestyle.