TALKING TO YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT THE MENOPAUSE
If you can manage your symptoms yourself with lifestyle changes you don’t need to see a doctor. If, however, they are seriously getting in the way of you going about your day to day life and impacting negatively on your relationships do make an appointment with your GP to discuss treatment options. And make that appointment time count. Rightly or wrongly, most time-strapped GPS have around 10-minute appointment slots and admit it is frustrating that they have so little time to devote to talking over the myriad of options available. To get the most from your allotted appointment time, try to go armed with as much information as possible and with specific questions.
Ask if there is a menopause expert in the surgery
Some surgeries have a GP with a special interest in women’s health and the menopause, so ask at reception who in the practice is the most suitable when it comes to discussing all things menopausal.
Make a list of your symptoms
Make a brief checklist of your symptoms with details about how they make you feel or if the symptom appears to be triggered by anything in particular. Mention any treatments you have tried, conventional or complementary, and if they have helped.
Try not to be embarrassed
Your doctor will have seen many women presenting the exact or similar concerns as you. No matter how sensitive the topic feels – from hot flushes to vaginal dryness – your doctor is unlikely to be phased by any of it. If it makes you feel better take someone with you for support. This can be especially helpful if you feel confused or overwhelmed by your symptoms and could benefit from a second pair of ears to absorb and remember the information you are given and/or for asking any helpful questions on your behalf.
Research treatment options
There is a huge amount of helpful advice and a range of discussion forums online where you can chat about symptoms and treatment options with experts and other women. There is a lot of contradictory and incorrect information out there too so look for reputable sites and resources. It will help you to feel more in control if you can go into your appointment with some understanding of what treatment options are on the table and which feel like the most appropriate for you. Some women, for example, go in complaining of feeling teary and down and are often prescribed anti-depressants when Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) or another course of treatment like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – or a combination of the two - might be more appropriate. Similarly, HRT might be the most effective treatment option for many women but not everyone can, or wants, to take it. There are a range of complementary therapies available that might work for you – or it might be that a combination of conventional and complementary treatments is the answer. Look at the pros and cons of what is out there, do your own research, talk it over (online or in person) with others and then decide, with the help of your GP, what is right for you.
Check private health insurance
If you have private health insurance and hope to get treatment privately for your menopausal symptoms you might be out of luck. Unfair as it might be, most private health insurers will not pay out for treatment for menopausal symptoms as these are deemed to arise from a natural cause and not the result of disease, injury or illness.
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