You’ve been with your Ob/Gyn through some of the most emotional and personal moments of your life. Now that you’re entering menopause, you have a lot to discuss with your doctor.
Having an Ob/Gyn you trust will allow you to share your most intimate questions and concerns, openly and honestly, and lead you toward the right treatment.
Before every visit with your Ob/Gyn, write down a list of questions that you want to cover. Use these questions to launch a discussion on symptoms that are bothering you, treatment options, and any other concerns you have about menopause.
- Become an expert. Ask questions during your exam to better understand your health. If you don’t understand the answer to a question, ask again.
- Answer your doctor’s questions, too. Telling your doctor as much as you can about your health will help her prescribe the right treatment.
- Be honest. Certain drugs can interact with others, so tell your doctor about every medication you’re taking—even over-the-counter medications.
- Personal and family health history. Conditions like breast cancer and heart disease can impact your menopause treatment.
- Examine your lifestyle. Tell your doctor if you drink or smoke and let them know your exercise and diet habits. Your Ob/Gyn can use this information to guide your treatment.
- Schedule a follow-up visit. Before you leave, arrange a follow-up visit. Also, find out the best way to reach your doctor. Sometimes busy Ob/Gyn’s find it easier to respond to simple questions via email or over the phone than in person.
Discussing Awkward Subjects
Your sexuality may not be a topic you’re comfortable discussing, even with your doctor. Yet it’s important because menopause can lead to significant changes in your sex life.
“Almost all women, if they’re not on estrogen therapy, have some symptoms of vaginal dryness,” explains Judith Volkar, MD, an Ob/Gyn at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Specialized Women’s Health. That dryness can make sex uncomfortable, even painful. When it hurts you may avoid sex entirely, which will only make the problem worse.”
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--your doctor has probably heard it before.
Other Topics of Conversation
Don’t forget to address your overall general health. Dr. Volkar suggests that you ask yourself: “now that I’m at this phase of my life, what other things do I need to be concerned about in terms of being preventive about my healthcare?’”
Find out what screenings you’ll need for conditions that are common in postmenopausal women so you can prevent diseases like heart disease and cancer before they start.
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. “If you are age 50, chances are you’re going to be living to age 85,” Dr. Volkar says. “We’d like them to be healthy years.”
Questions to Ask
Use these questions to help you start—and maintain—an open conversation with your gynecologist:
- 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?