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10 Questions you need to ask your doctor about menopause

BY Lauren Chiren

28th Feb 2024 Menopause

5 min read

10 Questions you need to ask your doctor about menopause
Menopause can be difficult to navigate, and knowing how to advocate for yourself can be tough. Menopause coach Lauren Chiren shares ten questions you should ask your doctor
Perimenopause and menopause can be difficult to navigate. Your body goes through several changes, with symptoms that can cause severe physical and mental health issues, and every person will have a different experience. Sadly, this can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. It can be a confusing time for anyone, with many people not knowing where to turn, or what support is available to them. 
Self advocacy is incredibly important when it comes to understanding how menopause is affecting your body, so I have put together this guide for how to approach your doctor and what role they can play in supporting you through menopause, with questions to ask.

How your doctor can support you through menopause

Reflecting on my own experience, where I mistook menopause symptoms for early-onset dementia, I've realised the critical importance of asking the right questions of the right people to access timely and effective support.
Before we even talk about what we should ask our doctors, it's important to emphasise we must start talking about menopause generally, at work and at home. By making it a regular conversation, it becomes normal to go to our doctor to chat about how they can support us in successfully navigating menopause. 
"We must start talking about menopause generally, at work and at home"
Remember also that doctors are one source of support through menopause. Their role is to provide medical options and help us make informed decisions about the best treatment pathway. Whatever agreements we make with our medical approach, we should also be considering our overall acceptance of menopause, what and how we hydrate, eat and move, our ability to ask and receive help and support from others and critically, our ability to manage our stress levels, and to relax and recuperate from the daily hubbub of life.  
Ask your doctor to explain menopause and both hormonal and non-hormonal treatment options, including their benefits and potential side effects. This knowledge is vital in making informed decisions about your health. It will also give you a great insight as to their level of training and expertise in this area.

How to advocate for yourself with your doctor

Advocating for yourself with your doctor and other health professionals, especially during menopause, is crucial. Here are some practical steps to ensure you are heard and receive the care you need:
Keep a symptom diary for at least two weeks
Document your symptoms, their frequency, and their impact on your daily life. This record provides a clear picture of what you're experiencing and is invaluable during your consultation. It also allows you to take some time to notice if you have any triggers that are exacerbating symptoms, empowering you to take back a bit of control
Download the NICE guidelines
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines offer evidence-based recommendations on healthcare. Familiarising yourself with these guidelines can give you a clearer understanding of recommended menopause treatments and care pathways in the UK. Keep an eye on these as they are currently under review! 
Choose the right GP
When booking your appointment, request a GP who has a special interest or qualification in menopause or women's health. This ensures that you're consulting someone with a deeper understanding of your concerns.
A stethoscope on a desk
You are always welcome to change your doctor or even your surgery and ask for a referral to a specialist clinic if you have moderate to severe symptoms. Sadly wait lists on the NHS are incredibly long at the moment, but that should not deter you from asking!
Ask for a double appointment and tell the person taking the booking whether you prefer face to face, online or a phone appointment.
List your questions
Write down all the questions you want to ask beforehand. This ensures you cover all your concerns without forgetting anything important during the appointment. Here are my ten top types of questions to ask your doctor. Choose the ones that best resonate with you.
(1) Symptoms:
  • What are the common symptoms of menopause that I should be aware of?
  • Are my current symptoms normal, or should I be concerned about any of them?
  • What uncommon symptoms should I be aware of?
(2) Stages:
  • How can I tell if I am in perimenopause, menopause, or postmenopause?
  • How will I know I am post-menopausal?
  • I have the coil/am taking contraception, how will I know I am menopausal?
(3) Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT):
  • What are the risks and benefits of HRT for me?
  • Are there non-hormonal treatments you would recommend for my symptoms?
  • How do I know if I need  testosterone
  • How do I get a prepayment certificate?
  • How often do you prescribe HRT? Can I get it on repeat? How often do you check I am on the right dosage? What do I do if my prescription isn’t working
  • How long does HRT take to work?
(4) Common:
  • How can menopause affect my sexual health, and what can I do about it?
  • Can menopause affect my mental health, and what are the signs to look out for?
  • What should I know about osteoporosis and bone health during menopause?
  • How might menopause impact my cardiovascular health?
  • Should I be concerned about sleep disturbances, and how can I manage them?
(5) Further learning:
  • Can you suggest any resources for more information on menopause?
(6) Ongoing support and check-ins:
(7) Referral:
  • Can I be referred to a menopause specialist clinic?
  • How long are the wait times?
(8) Private GPs/specialists:
  • Will you accept the blood results from my private doctor?
  • Will you prescribe based on my private doctor’s prescription?
(9) Other medical considerations:
  • Are there any changes to my medication regimen that you would suggest as I go through menopause?
  • Does HRT interact with any other medications or foods or supplements?
(10) Work:
Prepare for your appointment
Bring a notepad and pen to jot down important points or advice your doctor gives. This helps in remembering the details and following up on the suggestions made. We don't remember everything we are told when we are in our best health, so it's worth a bit of backup when we can be feeling somewhat concerned and unsure of the best way forward
Consider support
If possible, take a friend or family member with you. Having someone there for support can be comforting and they can also help remember information or ask questions you might not have thought of.
Be prepared for two appointments
Even the most educated and knowledgeable doctor may use one appointment to understand your situation and come up with potential options moving forward and then after you have both done some background reading, invite you back to enable you to make an informed decision about an agreed treatment pathway.
"If your experience leaves you feeling anything less than 100 per cent confident, ask for another appointment"
This approach will help you feel in control and get an effective treatment plan whilst ensuring you successfully navigate menopause. Remember, you deserve to have your doctor's full support. If your experience leaves you feeling anything less than 100 per cent confident, ask for another appointment, or change your doctor! 
Menopause training can also be a really effective way to learn about menopause education, and gives you the ability to help others. Head here to find out more about our accredited CPD Menopause Champion training or get in touch for a bespoke training package for your organisation. 
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