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Turning up the volume: How to talk with your healthcare professional about menopause

Turning up the volume: How to talk with your healthcare professional about menopause

Written by Dr. Heather Hirsch on January 26, 2024

Heather Hirsch, M.D. MS, NCMP, is the founder of the Menopause & Midlife clinic at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and also served on the faculty at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Hirsch is board certified in Internal Medicine and completed advanced fellowship training in Women’s Health at the Cleveland Clinic. Her specialty practice focuses on menopausal hormone therapy, perimenopause, breast cancer survivorship, sexual dysfunction, bone health, and other conditions common to women in midlife.

As a certified internist who specializes in menopause, I have dedicated my life’s work to helping women become their most informed and confident selves during their mid-life journey. I often meet patients who express frustration or confusion with doctor’s visits in the past because they don’t know where to begin or struggle to navigate these conversations with their healthcare professionals. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you look to create a dialogue with your healthcare professional about your symptoms.

Don’t be afraid.

I know it can feel unnerving to reach out to your healthcare professional for help. It can feel intimidating or embarrassing but try not to be discouraged. I know this is easier said than done, but asking for help is the first step to feeling more informed and taking hold of your menopause journey.

As healthcare professionals, we are here to help, so I always stress to my patients that no question or symptom is too insignificant to bring attention to.

Schedule a specific visit.

While it may seem easier or more convenient to wait for your annual visit to discuss your menopause symptoms, your doctor may prioritize other topics that need to be addressed, and therefore not have enough time to address your new symptoms or concerns. Scheduling a doctor’s visit dedicated specifically to your menopausal experience will give you and your doctor dedicated time to discuss your symptoms and work through a treatment plan, if necessary.

Be prepared.

It always helps to go into an appointment knowing what you want to talk about and having a clear, irrefutable log of your symptoms. One of the features I love about the Clearblue® Menopause Stage Indicator and the Clearblue® me app is the personalized report you can download after completing your serial Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) tests, which can serve as a helpful guide for your conversation. The report includes information such as your likely menopause stage1 and overall FSH levels which, coupled with a detailed log of your tracked symptoms and their frequency over the last 6 weeks, will help your doctor understand what you’ve been experiencing, allowing them to make more informed and targeted recommendations.

Advocate for yourself.

Over the years, I’ve stressed to my patients that they are their own biggest advocates. If you aren’t happy with the responses you’re receiving or need further clarification, be open with your doctor. Asking questions such as, “Can you explain what that means?” or “Can you give more detail on why you’re recommending this treatment plan?” will help increase your trust in your doctor and leave you feeling more confident and informed.

Seek a second opinion.

If you’re not satisfied with your experience, remember that you’re entitled to a second opinion. Don’t settle for a bad experience, and don’t let it discourage you from finding a doctor who is the right fit.

Lean on your community.

You aren’t alone in this! While a doctor’s visit is an important step, your doctor is not the only one there for you to rely on. Remember to lean on the support of your family, friends, and millions of women around the world who are experiencing menopause.

Menopause is something every woman goes through, so know you aren’t alone in what you are feeling, no matter how isolating it may feel.

Disclaimers/Sources

  1. Only a healthcare professional can confirm your menopause stage.
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