Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Do my symptoms indicate that I might be going through menopause?
- My menstrual cycle is irregular. Could it be caused by something other than menopause?
- Im uncomfortable and/or dont feel well. Is there a way to safely treat my symptoms?
- Ive heard that soy products or herbal supplements may help. Are these effective? Are they good options for me?
- Am I a candidate for hormone replacement therapy?
- What are the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy?
- Am I at risk for heart disease or osteoporosis?
- Do I need any tests, such as bone density screening?
- Now that Im going through menopause, what changes, if any, should I make to my diet and exercise?
How To Ask Your Gp For Help
If you suspect that youre perimenopausal or menopausal, and your symptoms have started to interfere with your quality of life, its a good idea to make an appointment to see your doctor or a healthcare professional who specialises in the menopause.
In most cases, your first point of contact will be your GP or the practice nurse at your local surgery but its always worth asking theres a particular person who specialises in the menopause. Some areas have specialist menopause clinics, but these are few and far between. Unless you have a complex medical history, your menopause care is likely to be managed by your GP.
Is There A Way To Navigate Menopause Gracefully
Theres no one way to tackle menopause, but try to stay positive. I think it helps to accept whats coming your way, he says. Many of these changes are a normal part of getting older.
Sometimes women who have sexual health problems during menopause take it very personally, says Garb. I try to get them to look at some of these changes in the same way that we do other signs of getting older for example, at a certain age, we all need reading glasses to read a menu, he says.
Having issues with sexual function isnt a reflection of your relationship, desire, or enthusiasm, he says. Many of these changes are natural and universal, and they dont necessarily make you a less sexual person.
Remember to keep your sense of humor and focus on the positives during menopause. For example, Garb says, by the time many women get to menopause, they welcome not having a monthly period and that itself can be a welcome transition.
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Are There Natural Remedies
If you dont like the idea of the traditional method of treatment, you can inquire about natural remedies to help ease your symptoms. 1 in 3 women have issues with vaginal dryness.
If youre someone that struggles with this your doctor can help. They could suggest lubricant or other treatment forms that can improve this symptom drastically.
Its best to find one of the locations here to speak with your doctor about these things in person.
What Should You Talk About
Your health, habits and family history can all be important for the advice your doctor will give. Think about the questions below before your appointment to help get the most out of the time with your doctor:
- When was your last period?
- What symptoms are you having, and when did they start?
- Is there something that triggers them?
- How frequently do they occur?
- How much are they affecting your life?
- Do you know of any major health concerns in close relatives?
Your doctor will also ask you about lifestyle habits such as your diet, exercise, sleeping patterns, smoking and alcohol intake.
You may also like to complete the Menopause Symptoms Checklist and print out your results. This can give you a clearer picture of your symptoms and help to start the conversation with your doctor.
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What Are My Options For Treating Vaginal Dryness
Vaginal dryness is a common symptom of menopause, not only during intercourse but also throughout the day, says Garb.
If youre experiencing vaginal dryness, try an over-the-counter lubricant, he says. And try to stay away from any product that is stimulating or warming, Garb says, because these lubricants tend to be more irritating than helpful for menopausal women.
There are also vaginal moisturizers available over the counter that can help with day-to-day discomfort outside of sexual activity, he says.
You can also talk to your doctor about using vaginal estrogen, which is available in several different forms, including creams and suppositories, says Garb, but these medications arent appropriate for everyone.
How Does Menopause Affect Bone Health
The older a person is, the greater their risk of osteoporosis. A persons risk becomes even greater when they go through menopause. When your estrogen level decreases during menopause, you lose more bone than your body can replace. This makes your bones weaker and more likely to break. To keep your bones strong, its important to get enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet. These help your body absorb calcium. Your doctor can suggest ways to get more calcium through food, drink, and, possibly, a calcium supplement. They may also suggest that you take a vitamin D supplement to help your body process calcium. Ask your doctor what amount of daily calcium and vitamin D is right for you.
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Three Out Of Four Women Who Seek Help For Symptoms Dont Receive It
by Jennifer Wolff, AARP The Magazine, August/September 2018| 0
For many women, menopause comes as a relief: an end to pregnancy worries and monthly cramps, a farewell to bloodstained panties and premenstrual mood swings. Though menopause signals the opening of a historically uncelebrated chapter in a womans journey, lots of women are thrilled to cross its threshold.
Others loathe the passage. For them its a journey often punctuated by hot flashes, insomnia and, in numerous cases, sexual dysfunction symptoms that for some can continue for 15 years or longer. These episodes can make women in their 50s and 60s feel uncomfortable, demoralized and sometimes seriously ill.
But regardless of ones attitude toward it, the onset of menopause means a marked increase in certain health risks. For example, hormonal changes result in an accelerated rise in LDL cholesterol in the 12 months following menopause, boosting the possibility of heart disease. And though both men and women suffer a loss of bone density with age, the sudden reduction in estrogen associated with menopause has been shown to trigger an inflammatory reaction in some women that leads to a dramatic decrease in bone mass. These issues lurk beneath a host of distracting and sometimes debilitating physical conditions, large and small, from night sweats to weight gain to concentration problems.
Preparing For Your Visit
Youll have the most useful conversations with your medical practitioner if you go to your visits feeling prepared, confident, and ready to get the most out of your time with your doctor. You may want to schedule a 15-20 minute appointment/meeting with your doctor specifically to discuss your perimenopause or menopause symptoms. This gives you and your doctor the time and space to have a conversation.
There are several good ways to prepare. But first and foremost, we want to remind you to believe fully in your own knowledge of your body. Know that you are the only one whos been living inside your body for all these years and you are the best judge of what will work for you.
Here are some ideas to think over:
- Understand your own expectations for menopause symptom relief and support .
- Make a list of everything youd like to discuss or resolve at your doctor visit. As its common to be confused about menopause, you may want to talk with a friend or partner ahead of time about what youd like from your doctor during the appointment.
- Consider your lifestyle habits before you go so you can share anything pertinent with your doctor. Some women tell us they are less than truthful when talking to their doctors about certain habits . Doctors and healthcare practitioners can provide the best help when they have all the facts.
- Take note of your symptoms and how you are feeling. Your doctor will most likely want to know the following:
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What About Annual Well
Though you may no longer need birth control, your annual checkup is still important to screen for sexually transmitted diseases, cancer, and even concerns like urinary incontinence. Your provider offers a full range of sexual and reproductive health, which is important throughout a womans life.
A womans body changes a lot through menopause. This can be an uncomfortable experience to talk about. Yet, understanding menopause and going to your appointment prepared with questions about the process will give you a head start whenever the symptoms of menopausal transition begin.
Can My Diet Affect How Well I Sleep
The following tips can help reduce sleep problems:
- Eat regular meals at regular times.
- Avoid late-night meals and heavy late-night snacks.
- Limit caffeine, which is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and cola drinks. Caffeine stays in the bloodstream for up to 6 hours and can interfere with sleep.
- Avoid alcohol. It may make you feel sleepy, but it actually affects the cycle of REM and non-REM sleep. This may cause you to wake up throughout the night.
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Is There Medication For Menopause Symptoms
There are many treatments that can help decrease menopause symptoms. Over-the-counter lubricants help with vaginal dryness. Other medications, such as gabapentin and paroxetine and some blood pressure medications help reduce hot flashes.
Your physician may also recommend hormone replacement therapy, which supplementsestrogen levels to reduce symptoms. Not everyone needs estrogen replacement, but if youre suffering and feel miserable, it is worth doing, says Dr. Johnson. It may help to manage the transition more comfortably.
Look For An Ob/gyn With Continuing Education In Menopause
The North American Menopause Society…certifies practitioners in menopause management, says Dr. Faubion. not a board certification, but it is a recognition that our society gives practitioners who have passed a test. You can search for certified doctors in your area using the physician finder on the NAMS website.
In addition, Dr. Faubion says, theres a womens health fellowship at the Mayo Clinic that, while also not a board certification, gives doctors specialized training in menopause. Plus some residency programs, like Mayos, require OB/GYNs, as well as endocrinology and family medicine residents, to go through mandatory women’s health rotations and clinics. You can research your provider’s accreditations to cross-reference.
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Talking To Your Doctor About Menopause & Perimenopause
We recently surveyed more than 900 women and found that while 80% had gone to their doctors for help with menopause, more than 60% werent able to have a supportive, honest discussion about menopause options.
There are many reasons why this is the case:
- Medical practitioners may still regard menopause as a disease that they need to treat, manage, or fix. This perspective can make it difficult to discuss concerns about menopause, which we know is much more complicated than simply resolving one issue.
- We may feel fine discussing some menopause symptoms, but feel embarrassed or scared to discuss others.
- Were frustrated by being unable to effectively communicate our own experiences and knowledge about our bodies, as well as ideas about how we want to find improvement.
- Finally, in worst-case scenarios, women are dismissed by their doctors, talked down to, or sent off with prescriptions for birth control pills or antidepressants instead of real information or support for their natural choices.
You deserve to get the support you and your body need during menopause and perimenopause. Using the following information as a guide, you can have a more open, honest and effective conversation with your doctor or healthcare provider.
Questions About Your Menopause And Lifestyle
If your GP is following NICE guidelines, they will go through a list of essential questions, so listen carefully and try to give your answers as clearly as possible. If there is anything you dont understand or are unsure of, ask for an explanation. As well as asking specific questions about menopause, your GP may ask general questions about your diet and lifestyle, including how well you sleep and what exercise you take, whether or not you smoke or have ever smoked, and how much, if any, alcohol you consume during a typical week, so be prepared to answer these questions too.
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I Am Feeling Different And May Be Experiencing Symptoms Can We Talk About How Im Feeling And If This Is Normal
Menopause can manifest itself in a range of emotional, physiological, and psychological responses. If youre feeling emotionally out of control, finding it harder to sleep, suffering from muscle aches, or experiencing a loss of sex drivethese can all be exacerbated by estrogen loss. Let your doctor know about any health changes youre experiencing and ask how menopause might be affecting other areas of your life as well.
Why You Should Seek Care From A Menopause Specialist
Hot flashes, trouble sleeping, mood changes, irregular vaginal bleeding, and vaginal dryness are common symptoms of menopause, a time when womens bodies no longer produce the hormone estrogen as they once did. While these symptoms dont necessarily require medical treatment, they shouldnt be ignored.
Menopause signals a time when you could be at higher risk for hypertension, cholesterol disorders, osteoporosis, and diabetes, said Dr. Camille Moreno, DO, a certified menopause practitioner at Duke Womens Health Associates Brier Creek, Navaho in Raleigh, and Duke Health Center Arringdon in Morrisville.
In addition to Dr. Moreno, some Duke Health gynecologists specialize in providing care for women at this stage of life. They can help you stay healthy and feeling your best now and in the years ahead.
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Should I Switch To A Different Dosage Or Form Of Birth Control
Hormone fluctuations and period disruptions are totally normal during the years leading up to menopause. Some women in perimenopause choose birth control with a lower estrogen dosage to help them cope with those fluctuations. Others may want to switch to another form of birth control entirely if vaginal dryness makes it more difficult to insert a menstrual cup or occasional brain fog leads to more missed pills than usual. Even if you decide to stick with your tried and true contraceptive method, its worth starting the conversation to see if there are other options better suited to you during this time of life.
What Else Can I Do To Ease Menopause Symptoms
There are many things you can do to curb hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, vaginal dryness, and lost libido. Lifestyle changes — such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, relaxation techniques, and keeping a regular sleep schedule — can help. If you smoke, quit . Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Lubricants can greatly ease vaginal dryness and heighten sexual sensation.Stay active to avoid depression and seek social support from woemn like you
Your doctor can give you more information about these techniques and other treatment options. The use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors has become more common in women who are not good candidates for hormone therapy or prefer not to use hormones. Paroxetine is the only non hormonal therapy specifically approved by the FDA for hot flahes, but some relief has been found with gabapentin .
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Preparing For Your Appointment
If your local surgery offers double appointments its a good idea to book one of these so that youll have enough time discuss your symptoms and concerns. Before your appointment, take a look at the symptoms list to record the menopausal symptoms that youre experiencing.
Make a note of any changes to your periods, and bring a list of any medications that youre taking, including herbal supplements. Its also wise to jot down any questions or concerns, so that you dont forget to mention them during your appointment. If youre feeling anxious, you can bring along a friend or family member for moral support.
Is It Time For Me To Try Hormone Therapy
Several factors play into whether hormone replacement therapy is the best option for you. Your age is one factor. Your doctor will also want to consider whether youâve had a hysterectomy and whether you have certain health risks, such as a family or personal history of breast cancer or clotting disorders.
Preparing For Your Doctors Appointment
If you can, try and book a longer appointment with your doctor. A standard 10-15 minute consultation probably wont be long enough for you to ask the questions you want and get adequate answers.
Before you go, make sure you are prepared. This means:
- write down a list of your symptoms, how often you have experienced them, and the duration and severity. Try and keep a record for a month at least before you go, and think about what your periods have been like for the last 3-6 months in terms of length, frequency, how heavy/light they were
- take a list of all medication, supplements and herbs you take, the doses and how often you take them
- think about whether you have had any unexpected or unusual stress over the last 6-12 months including extra stress at work, relationship problems with your partner or a close family member or friend, death of a loved one, moved house, changed jobs, kids leaving home
- know your personal and family health history is there a history of heart disease, osteoporosis, auto-immune diseases ?
- ask if you can record the session to listen to later not all doctors will be comfortable with this, so take a notepad and pen to write notes as well
- take a list of questions to ask write them down so you dont forget them.