How do I talk to my GP about MY menopause?

8 Sep 2021

How do I talk to my GP about my menopause?

You have made the appointment to speak to your GP about your peri menopause – menopause – post menopause. It’s now time to ask for advice, support, treatment and move forward.
Whether it’s the first appointment or the 5th it’s great to build a partnership with your GP for your midlife journey.

But what is the best way to get across all you want to say and find out in what may only be a 9–10-minute appt?

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
Having facts about your current health, symptoms, and lifestyle with you when you speak to your GP in person or on the phone will be invaluable information they will need to help with your appointment, and especially as appointments are often short, having the material to hand and the questions you want to ask will utilise that time as best as possible.

How to get this information?
Tracking your health, symptoms and changes is a really useful way to build a picture about what’s going on – when, how often, is it related to your current menstrual cycle. Start tracking as early as you can, if you have not, look back through your diary, dates, events that may remind you of a specific time… maybe your last period, a hot flush, and bout of insomnia etc.

This applies to your research into the treatment/s you may want to try or find out more about. Explain what you would like and why, have you weighed up the risks and benefits to the treatments you are wanting to try.

A check list of information to gather could be:

• If the GP is not sure is your symptoms are hormone / menopause related, then having completed a Green Climacteric Score: https://www.menopausematters.co.uk/greenescore.php
will help the GP determine if they are.
• Explain why you want to talk, make a list of questions/concerns.
• Describe your symptoms and observations.
• How long have they been going on?
• How do they make you feel?
• How long does it or they last for – hours / days?
• Are there triggers, if so, what are they.
• What helps alleviate? How do you feel.

Current Information:
Have your current medical history and details with you:

• Medications prescribed and over the counter. It maybe you do not have a regular GP, so each time you speak to someone new, letting them know about you can help save time.
• Talking about your current lifestyle will help with the information and recommendations they may make: Such as Exercise, Specific nutrition, Smoking / Drinking, Stress Levels, Allergies, Supplements.
• What is your work / family dynamic like?
Knowing what’s occurring in your life will give the GP a better picture of what will be helpful based on this.
Depending on the outcome of your appointment – the answers, solutions, treatments that are discussed, there are some other things to consider and make sure you are aware of:

Questions to ask:
• If tests are to be carried out:
What are they, why are they being done, what is the time frame for the results, when to arrange a follow up appointment to discuss.
• Medication prescribed:
What is it, why is it being prescribed, if you do not want to take it what are the other options, side effects you ned to know about.

Being heard:
We want our GP to listen, hear our story and help us plan a way forward.
Sometimes we may not get the treatment we would like or agree with, you can ask for a second opinion if you are not happy with the GP’s answers, there may be another GP that has more experience in menopause treatment etc, and remember, NO question is insignificant / silly or a waste of time. The GP’s have probably heard it before.
If you are not happy you can also ask to be referred to a hormone specialist. I will list some links below for resources.

Support during your appointment:
Would you feel more comfortable taking someone with you to the appointment or have them with you during the call, to support you.
If you know that a 10-minute appointment will not be long enough, can you ask for a double appointment when booking?
You may know what you would like, you may not. This stage of life can and is a mystery, there is no one size fits all approach! Our GP’s too, like us may not have all the answers but working together to help us with our health, to find the best way forwards is key. One appointment may not be enough, so good communication and a plan that you can both work with will benefit you both.

Resources:
Nice guideline for menopause Treatment: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng23
British Menopause Society – Specialist Practitioners list: https://thebms.org.uk/find-a-menopause-specialist/
Clinic 51: https://www.clinic51.co.uk/
Perimenopause Hub: https://perimenopausehub.com/medical-hub/