It’s important to find a doctor who understands menopause. This is less obvious than it seems, as many medical schools consider menopause coursework elective. As a result, 80% of OB-GYN residents say they feel uncomfortable discussing menopause. Given that most women will live 30 years beyond menopause, you deserve a doctor who can provide optimal care before, during, and after this transition.
The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) established a set of standards for healthcare providers to ensure quality care for women throughout menopause. NAMS practitioners take specific coursework and must pass a competency exam to be a NAMS Certified Menopause Practitioner (NCMP).
You may have a good relationship with your GYN and maybe even a longer one with your primary care doctor. But if neither is knowledgeable about menopause—knowing the symptoms and stages, as well as being up to date on treatment options—then it may be time to move on to providers that specialize in menopause.
It may make sense to go to a GYN who does not do OB (although not always). Menopause affects many parts of the body, so it’s not just your gynecologist who needs to be up to date on menopause.
You may have to schedule multiple appointments with your doctor. A preventative well-visit with your gynecologist or internist requires them to do certain procedures and to ask certain questions. There might not be the time to discuss all of your menopausal symptoms during one appointment.
Therefore, it may be important to book a non-preventive visit and/or to have a follow-up visit.
Learn as much as you can about menopause from trusted, reliable sources, including:
Track your symptoms for a few weeks prior to your visit utilizing the LTM symptoms tracker LTM Symptoms Tracker-English LTM Symptoms Trac ker-Spanish, or the Menopause Rating Scale: Menopause Rating Scale (MRS)
Order those symptoms according to which are worrying you the most or having the greatest adverse impact on your health and life.
Write down your questions before your appointment.
Make sure to start with those questions related to what is worrying/bothering you the most. For example, talk about your worsening mood and whether your doctor believes you need to see a mental health specialist; ask about hormone therapy for your hot flashes, etc.
Please answer the questions to complete the symptoms checklist. While not a diagnostic tool, it is a printable resource to share with your povider to have an informed discussion about perimenopause.