When you were in your teens or early 20s, you visited an obstetrician/gynecologist for the first time. Back then, your biggest concerns likely regarded your period and choice of birth control.
Now that you’re transitioning to menopause, your ob/gyn is an important partner in your care. These days you’ve got 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 you maybe you don’t feel that the doctor who guided you through puberty and pregnancy is the right one to take you into 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 comfort level. Whatever your reason for wanting a new ob/gyn, here’s a guide to finding a doctor you trust.
What to Look For in an Ob/Gyn
Consider asking your friends, family members, or coworkers for a recommendation for a local ob/gyn. Another good place to start is an organization like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) or The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).
ACOG has a searchable directory of ob/gyns who are certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. NAMS also has a menopause specialist database. “One of the things we offer through the Society is a certification process in menopause,” says Margery L.S. Gass, MD, NCMP, executive director of The North American Menopause Society. NAMS-certified menopause practitioners have passed a validated exam, and maintain their certification by taking specialized courses in menopause.
Questions to Ask Your Ob/Gyn
Once you’ve found an ob/gyn in your area that sounds like a good fit on paper, set up an appointment for an informational interview.
Bring a list of questions with you to the appointment, including:
- Where did you receive training and certification?
- What kind of menopause-specific training have you had?
- For how long have you been practicing obstetrics/gynecology?
- How much of your practice is focused on menopause?
- What is your approach to treating women who are 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 are away?
- Do you accept my insurance?
After the interview, ask yourself a few questions too, including:
- How do I feel about this doctor?
- Would I be comfortable talking with this doctor about very personal issues, including sexuality?
- Will the doctor be available if I need help outside of office hours?
- Does the office staff seem helpful and available?
Making Your Decision
Meet with a few doctors before you make your final decision. Make sure the doctor you decide on is current on the latest menopause research. You want to be with an ob/gyn who can tailor the most current treatments to your personal needs.
Remember, once you’ve picked an ob/gyn, you’re not bound to stay with the same person. If you find that you’re not getting the care you need, start your search again.