Doctor appointments aren't something we look forward to usually. Generally speaking, most people go because they need to or feel that they should rather than having a great desire to see the doctor. You stand in line to check in and wait for a while. Then you wait for a while longer, visit with the nurse, and right at the end of the appointment, the doctor breezes in and out in record time. How often have you left the doctor's office realizing that you forgot to mention something or ask the doctor a question? If you are visiting your doctor to discuss your menopause symptoms, you really need to take charge of your appointment to get the answers you need. Suffering through your menopause symptoms in silence is unnecessary when treatment options are available.
According to The New York Times, new doctors are spending only 8 minutes with each patient. That means you need to be prepared to discuss the important issues as soon as he or she steps through the door. If you do not bring up your menopause questions and concerns, it is unlikely that your doctor will stop to ask you about them. When you take charge and play an active role in your doctor appointment, you can improve the quality of the care you receive. Think of health care as a team sport. You, the doctor, nurses, and pharmacists are all part of the team, and you need to communicate with each other in order to achieve a successful result.
So, how do you make sure you get the answers you need about menopause and hot flashes when you go to your appointment? The key is to be prepared. Before you head to your doctor, pull out a journal and start taking notes. Include things like your family history, your symptoms, lifestyle and nutritional changes you have tried, questions and concerns you may have, as well as important medical information that may affect treatment. Take your notebook with you to the doctor’s appointment and start up a conversation about your menopause symptoms and hot flashes. If you are worried about understanding what your doctor is telling you, bring along a trusted friend or family member who may be better at deciphering what the doctor is saying.
Actually speaking up once you get to the doctor's office isn't always easy. According to a recent survey by OWL (the Voice of Midlife and Older Women), only 60 percent of women feel comfortable discussing menopause with their physician. Many people feel intimidated and nervous when in the presence of “the white coat.” It's important to speak to the doctor clearly and respectfully but remember: your health is your responsibility. Ask your doctor the questions you wrote down about your menopause symptoms and take the time to write down the answers they provide. Repeat the information back to the doctor to make sure you fully understand what they are telling you. After your appointment is over, keep track of all the paperwork you receive and talk to your pharmacist if you have questions about the medications you have been prescribed.
Know where to turn for information once your appointment is over. Many doctors have after-hours phone numbers for emergencies or are available via email for further questions. Ask your doctor before you leave their office how you can reach them for more information about your menopause symptoms. If you are truly unhappy with your health care provider, look for a second opinion or choose a new doctor who may be better able to address your menopause concerns.
For New Doctors, 8 Minutes Per Patient. New York Times Blog. Retrieved October 22, 2015. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/30/for-new-doctors-8-minutes-per-patient/
Finding the Right Menopause Doctor. EverydayHealth.com. Retrieved October 22, 2015. http://www.everydayhealth.com/menopause/menopause-doctor.aspx
Reviewed October 26, 2015 by Michele Blacksberg RNRead more in Your Guide for Menopause & Hot Flash Treatment Options