If you have symptoms and can’t explain what on earth is going on, but you’re at an age where you think you may be menopausal, and you’re fed up with suffering for no clear reason, it would be sensible to see a doctor who has a special interest in menopause, or to see a menopause specialist. However, if you can’t do that for some reason, you can always begin by seeing your GP.
But remember, at the present time, not all GPs have specific knowledge about menopause, even female doctors; it’s not part of their training. That’s changing, thank goodness, but it’ll take time for it to become more commonplace. So here are a few tips to help your appointment go more smoothly:
Write down your symptoms:
Take the time to write down what’s going on with you, and if you’re finding being clear about that is a challenge, Google the Greene Climacteric Scale questionnaire and print it out. On this list, you can simply tick the symptoms you’re experiencing and to what extent you’re feeling them. It will really help your doctor to assess your menopausal issues. The NICE guidelines (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) recommend this and this particular list will give your doctor a great deal of information about you, also saving time.
Diary your cycle:
If you’re mid-40s upwards, the doctor can usually diagnose where you are in your menopause journey once they’ve asked you about your symptoms and your cycle. There’s no point in them doing a blood test if you’re 45+, as your hormone levels will be fluctuating hourly. So a check of your symptoms alone can give them enough information – as long as they know what to look for. This is why seeing a doctor who’s studied the NICE guidelines for GPs, or has a special interest in menopause, will have a much better idea about what’s happening with you.
Ask for a double appointment:
Doctors get ten minutes with you. If you’re not clear about how you feel or what’s going on, then ten minutes won’t be enough. And if before you, they have just seen someone who’s unsettled them or given them a lot to think about, or they have their own personal problems on their mind, you may not be getting their full attention. They are human after all. So help them as much as you can.
List these clearly; even the herbal ones and supplements.
Take a friend or relative. It will alleviate your anxiety because there’s two of you listening. Let your friend or relative know what you need from the appointment.
This is another reason to write things down. Whatever’s on your mind, write it down. Go to your appointment fully prepared. You’ll be so glad you did.
NICE dictates that your GP should discuss the following with you:
The stages of menopause
Common symptoms and how the menopause is diagnosed
Lifestyle changes that could help your health and wellbeing
Benefits and risks of treatments for menopausal symptoms
How the menopause may affect your future health
Try to leave the consulting room with as many questions answered as possible. What’s the next stage? When will you need to come back? Who do you contact with further questions? Ask if there’s anything you can take home to read. In fact, if you Google the NICE guidelines for menopause, you can find the section for patients. It’s very informative and will really help. And if you print it out for yourself, your GP may be quite thankful that you have it with you!
There’s absolutely no need to suffer at all during menopause. There’s such a lot of help available.
#menopause #perimenopause #hrt #niceguidelines
I’m not a qualified clinician, dietician, or psychologist. I write based only on my own experiences and research into menopause. J Wood