How to Talk to Your Doctor About Anything
Even when you’d rather not.
“Women are white-knuckling through a very tempestuous and confusing time, hungry for information.” — Sheryl writing for PBS’ Next Avenue.
So much has changed since I wrote that in 2019, back in the days when we could comfortably sit in our doc’s offices, sans masks, and discuss the state of our health.
When it comes to questions about menopause and aging, has it gotten any better? Between us Pausers, probably not.
That’s because while talking things out with an expert can help many things, we, unfortunately, can’t always do that with our own healthcare providers. That’s because only about 20 percent of OB/GYN residencies in the U.S. and Canada include formal menopause education.
Yes, we wax poetic about our weight, our blood pressure, our cholesterol, our insomnia, our indigestion, and yes, our docs dutifully read off their list of questions and tests during our annual physicals. However, it’s doubtful they ever ask us things like:
How’s your vagina feeling lately?
Have you had any panic attacks recently?
How many times a night do you have to get up to change your soaked sheets?
How do you really feel about that new spare tire around your waist?
When you look in the mirror, do you recognize who is staring back at you?
Okay, we can’t really expect all that introspection in a 20-min. appointment, but what we do know is that the docs with whom you can comfortably broach the subject of menopause, and those who will bring it up first, are few and far between.
What to do?
Gathered through experience, interviews with physicians themselves and some internet sleuthing, here are our best suggestions for asking the questions you want answered:
Make a list. Take some time before you go to think about your symptoms and concerns. And then write them down. Because we all know that menopause brain fog is real.
Take the list with you. Because we all know that menopause brain fog is real. Oh, wait, never mind. 😜
Be descriptive. You don’t need to go into a whole long explanation (and even probably less so for a female doc), but communicating when your symptoms started, how they make you feel, things that trigger them and things you’ve done to relieve them will give your healthcare provider some valuable insight.
Know your history. It can be helpful to know when your mom went through menopause and how she experienced it, since research points to an association between mothers and daughters.
Include these things. Tell your doc about prescription, over-the-counter drugs and any vitamins and supplements you take. Also worth mentioning: your diet and exercise habits. And now is not the time to be withholding about your drug or alcohol use. (We hope it’s well under control, but if not, it’s an important piece of the puzzle.)
If you’re still embarrassed, know this: They’ve probably heard it all before.
If all else fails, and you just can’t manage the conversation or are not getting what you want out of it, it might be time to either break up with your doc or look toward an online menopause clinic, many of which offer online doctor visits, over-the-counter products and prescription treatment plans.
Because your questions deserve to be asked — and answered. ♥️
For a Pause
If you’ll be sitting in your doc’s office anytime soon (and maybe even months from now), it might be time to up your mask game with these tips.
To create a strong filter inside your existing mask, consider adding these activated carbon inserts.
How long will it be until we go back to lipstick? Time will tell, but in the meantime, we can brighten up our eyelids, can’t we?
Speaking of brightening up, check out State Of, featuring “symptom-specific personal care co-created with perimenopausal and menopausal women.” Talk about specific! (And led by new CEO Stacy London. Talk about cool!)
One More Thing
Could these shoes be the final sign of the apocalypse? #asingforafriend
Until next week, stay well. Stay healthy. Stay safe.
See you next time!
XO Sheryl + Jennifer
Sweet lazy life
Champagne and caviar
I hope you'll come and find me
Cause you know who we are
— Mountain O’Things, Tracy Chapman
Know someone who could use a Pause? Why not share us with them? Thanks so much!