We know that short GP appointments can mean having a long wait and then a frustrating experience. That's why we wrote this post: to help you prepare so you can have the best possible appointment with your GP and leave feeling like you got what you wanted from it.
When booking your appointment with the receptionist, ask who best to speak to about menopause and request a female GP if that’s who you’ll be more comfortable with. GPs can often develop areas of special interest, such as women’s health or menopause, meaning some will know more than others. Seeing a GP who you are comfortable and confident with will leave you far happier with your experience - and get you the answers you want! We suggest you don’t leave it to chance and try to see a GP experienced in menopause. If possible, book a double appointment.
Think of your GP appointment as a mission. Your GP may be the doctor, but you can prepare and read up so you get the most from your appointment. Have a think about your symptoms and how they are affecting your day to day activities. You may even want to write a log or diary of symptoms during the weeks before. So when your GP asks ‘What brings you in today?’ you can answer confidently!
Remember: it is also important to note how you felt during your symptoms (anxious, frustrated, embarrassed) and the impact symptoms are having on your life. Take time to think about which are most bothersome to your quality of life.
GPs will want to know what you’re concerned about and what your expectations are from the consultation. The more you can share, the more your doctor should be able to help. Reading the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines for patients in advance will help you to have the conversation and find out what options they can offer. If it’s a referral to a menopause clinic, a change in your medication, or to see if you can start HRT, you should let your GP know so it can be discussed.
We suggest having questions ready in advance, such as: ‘I pee a little when I laugh, how do I stop this?’ or ‘sex has become painful, is there anything that can help?’ or ‘I think I’m going through menopause, I would like to try HRT?’
If you aren’t satisfied with your experience, ask for a second opinion from another GP in the practice with a speciality interest in women’s health, and if unavailable, a referral to a menopause clinic. The BMS has a good directory of all NHS and private menopause clinics. Alternatively you can see one of our menopause specialist partners here.
While 7 minutes isn’t a long time for a consultation, you can fit a lot in if you’re prepared. Having someone with you to ask questions, clarify points, and then to talk with afterwards takes the strain off you. You may feel like you can’t talk to people in your life about the symptoms you’re having, but this leaves you isolated when there is no need. We find the people around you will often be pleased to help and support you through menopause!