It’s easy to feel a bit off when menopause symptoms have got you down. Thanks to fluctuating hormones, it may feel like you are unpredictably transforming into another person, and not one you necessarily like. One moment you may feel quite content, going about your usual business, and then suddenly, you’ll experience a mood swing, a hot flash, or one of the various other symptoms commonly associated with menopause, and your sunny day turns to storm clouds. Perimenopause and menopause symptoms can seriously impact your quality of life, but you shouldn’t just have to “deal with them.”
Often it is family members and close friends who are privy to hearing about or even experiencing the impacts of these symptoms. Of course, it’s fine (and to a certain extent, healthy) to share what you are experiencing with those closest to you; but you may be overlooking a critical resource in your existing community — your healthcare provider.
Women with menopause symptoms should share what and how they are feeling with their healthcare provider, who can often offer advice that can make a difference. Still, many women feel uncomfortable broaching the topic of menopause symptoms, for a variety of reasons. They may feel they can “tough it out” when it comes to menopause symptoms. They may be embarrassed to bring up the subject with their provider. They may fear they will be perceived as a complainer or a “drama queen”. Or they simply may not know how to start the conversation.
Whatever the reason for your hesitation, you’re not alone. And the good news is, the sooner you start talking to your provider, the sooner they can help you find relief for your menopause symptoms. Here are some helpful tips to get the conversation started.
Tips for Talking to Your Doctor About Your Menopause Symptoms
Use a Menopause App or Keep a Log of Menopause Symptoms
It happens all the time. Before you visit your physician, you consider what issues you want to discuss. But when you are actually sitting on the examination table, those issues seem to disappear from your memory.
Thanks to technology, there are now menopause tracking apps that can help identify, track, and come up with a treatment plan for managing your menopause symptoms. These easy-to-use apps, such as My Luna, Caria, or MenoPro from The North American Menopause Society can help you identify your menopause symptoms, pinpoint specific symptom trends and triggers, and figure out what phase of menopause you’re experiencing.
If technology’s not your thing, you can also track your menopause symptoms the old-fashioned way; by keeping a written journal. Simply jot down the date and time you are experiencing symptoms along with what you are feeling. When recording and analyzing journal entries, look for patterns and potential causes. Consider factors that may be impacting you, such as particular family or workplace stressors, foods you have been eating, or whether or not you have been getting enough rest.
Whether you choose to use an app or keep a written log of your menopause symptoms, this well-documented information can provide your healthcare provider with additional insights. It will also help you define and feel more in control of what you are experiencing.
Select the Right Doctor and Ask the Right Questions
You may love your general physician, but other types of healthcare providers may be better qualified to deal with your menopause symptoms. Instead of your GP, consider speaking with a specialist, such as a gynecologist or psychiatrist, if you want advice from someone with a specific area of expertise, or if you think it would help you feel more comfortable about what you’re sharing. No matter which health care provider you choose to consult with, it's important that you feel they will listen to you and be supportive.
It’s also key to express upfront what you are expecting out of your appointment with your healthcare provider. According to Bonafide Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Alyssa Dweck, “The natural transition towards menopause may be inevitable but is a time that can be approached proactively and greeted with optimism. It’s ideal to speak candidly and directly to your healthcare provider to best understand and implement treatment options for your specific symptoms and concerns.”
Consider All the Solutions for Menopause Symptoms
Physicians agree that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to menopause symptoms, so it’s important to speak to your healthcare provider about the symptoms you are experiencing, and when you are experiencing them. The North American Menopause Society, Office on Women’s Health, and National Institute on Aging collectively suggest a variety of treatment options for menopause symptoms, including the below. It’s also important to discuss the addition of any new treatment options or natural remedies with your healthcare provider first:
- Lifestyle changes – regular exercise; a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, lean protein and reduced sodium and sugar; reduced caffeine and alcohol consumption; no smoking; eight hours of sleep; and stress reduction
- Hormone therapy: artificial estrogen and progesterone, available in multiple forms such as a pill, skin patch, implant, topical gel and vaginal suppository
- Natural remedies: vitamins and minerals, such as black cohosh, red clover and dong quai
Women seeking relief from menopause symptoms should not feel like they do not have options. Your healthcare provider is absolutely available to help, but you need to be proactive. By discussing your menopause symptoms and possible remedies with your provider, you’re one step closer to finding a solution that brings you the relief you are in search of.