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Talking Menopause With Your Health Care Practitioner

Menopause hormone therapy (MHT) can be beneficial for many women, but it may not be right for all women. It is important to discuss your personal risks and benefits with your healthcare practitioner and then decide if MHT is the right decision for you. Often times, women are reluctant to share their concerns about menopausal symptoms out of fear of being misunderstood or manipulated into thinking this is a normal phase of life and they must deal with it. The Menopause Society provides guidance on how to initiate the discussion with your own practitioner.

The Menopause Appointment:

It is recommended that you make an in-person appointment to see your healthcare practitioner. Explaining your symptoms and concerns and asking questions in your practitioner’s office is often more comfortable than asking over the telephone, computer, or text.

Also, it is highly likely that your primary care or gynecologist, who has cared for you during your reproductive age, may NOT have received much training on menopause or feel comfortable discussing your options. You will most likely have to seek out someone with expertise in menopause care.

Call ahead and ask if they are willing to discuss your menopause symptoms and therapeutic possibilities. This visit should not be a part of the “well-woman exam.” Insurance only pays for your annual visit as a cervical and breast cancer screening appointment. You will most likely need to make a problem visit to discuss menopause.

Tips to Help You Prepare for Your Menopause Appointment:

  • Try to schedule the first appointment of the morning to ensure a fresh healthcare practitioner. Tell the staff about issues you would like to discuss so the scheduler knows to block off additional time.

  • Consider showing up to the appointment fasted (no food/drink other than water after midnight). This will avoid any delay in testing requiring a fasted state.

  • Write down your family history of diseases and illnesses, which relative had them, and at what age. Your family history may help to determine if you are a good candidate for certain hormone therapies.

  • Keep a symptom journal, noting any changes to your health since your last visit, including new aches and pains, increased fatigue, hair loss, weight gain or loss, constipation, forgetfulness, depression, etc.

  • Write down the specific tests you would like, and what symptoms you have that would make testing these levels a good idea. Your family history could qualify you for certain medical tests you may not otherwise be qualified for. For example, if you have fatigue and a family history of hypothyroidism, your practitioner can utilize that diagnostic code and increase your chances of insurance covering the test.

  • Consider your preferences for managing your symptoms and long-term health, e.g., menopause hormone therapy (MHT), an herbal approach, and changes in your lifestyle. It’s your choice, and you’ll want to ask your practitioner for their opinion based on your medical history.

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