Talking to Your Doctor About Menopause
Knowing how to talk to your doctor or other members of
your health care team can help you get the information you need about menopause
Here are some tips
for talking with your doctor:
- Make a list of concerns and questions to take to your visit with your
doctor. While you're waiting to be seen, use the time to review your list
and organize your thoughts. You can share the list with your doctor.
- Describe your symptoms clearly and briefly. Say when they started, how
they make you feel, what triggers them, and what you've done to relieve
- Tell your doctor this important information:
- What prescription and over-the-counter medicines,
vitamins, herbal products, and other supplements you're taking.
- Your diet, physical activity, smoking, alcohol or
drug use, and sexual history
- Describe allergies to drugs, foods, or other
- Don't forget to mention if you are being treated by other doctors.
- Don't feel embarrassed about discussing sensitive topics. Chances are,
your doctor has heard it before! Don't leave something out because you're
worried about taking up too much time. Be sure to have all of your concerns
addressed before you leave.
- If your doctor orders tests, be sure to ask how to find out about
results and how long it takes to get them. Get instructions for what you
need to do to get ready for the test(s) and find out about any dangers or
side effects with the test(s).
- When you are given medicine and other treatments, ask your doctor about
them. Talk about the latest studies and recommendations for treating
menopausal symptoms (see Women's Health Initiative news). Ask how long
treatment will last, if it has any side effects, how much it will cost, and
if it is covered by insurance. Make sure you understand how to take your
medicine; what to do if you miss a dose; if there are any foods, drugs, or
activities you should avoid when taking the medicine; and if you can take a
- Understand everything before you leave your visit. If you don't
understand something, ask to have it explained again.
- Bring a family member or trusted friend with you to your visit. That
person can take notes, offer moral support, and help you remember what was
discussed. You can also have that person ask questions as well.
Get a Second Opinion
Since we're always learning more about menopause
treatment options and hormone therapy, it is can be confusing to figure out how to treat or manage
menopausal symptoms. It is important for you to have a doctor that you trust, so
you can have an open talk about your concerns and your treatment options. Then,
you can make informed decisions about your health that you feel good about. If
you feel that you have talked openly with your doctor and still don't feel
satisfied, you should think about getting a second opinion.
Getting a second opinion from a different doctor might give you a fresh
perspective and more information on treatments. Here are some tips for how to
get a second opinion:
- Ask your doctor to recommend another doctor or specialist for another
opinion. Don't worry about hurting your doctor's feelings.
- If you don't feel comfortable asking your doctor about whom to go to for
a second opinion, contact another doctor you trust. You can also call
university teaching hospitals and medical societies in your area for names
of doctors. Some of this information is available on the Internet.
- Always check with your health insurance provider
first to make sure the cost of a second opinion is covered. Many health
insurance providers do. Ask if there are any special procedures you or your
primary care doctor need to
- Arrange to have your medical records sent to the second opinion doctor
before your visit. This gives the new doctor time to look at your records
and can help you to avoid repeating medical tests.
- Learn as much as you can. Ask your doctor for
information you can read, go to a local library, or do a search on the Internet. Some teaching
hospitals and universities have medical libraries that are open to the
public. But sorting through information that is complicated and sometimes
contradictory can be a daunting task. List your questions and concerns and
bring the list to discuss with the doctor.
- Never rely solely on the telephone or Internet for a
second opinion. When you get a second opinion, you need to be seen in person
by a doctor. A sound second opinion includes a physical examination and a
thorough review of your medical records. Don't forget to ask the doctor to
send a written report to your primary care doctor and get a copy for your records.
Source: The National Women's Health Information Center (www4woman.gov)
Last Editorial Review: 5/19/2005