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Menopause Health Center

Getting the Most From Your Doctor’s Appointment

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Doctors often spend only a few minutes with each patient they see for routine exams. However, there is often time out of the exam room that is spent reviewing the chart and records. The experience can be both confusing and frustrating when communication on one or both sides is lacking, particularly if you're presented with new information to process or new instructions to follow.

While a visit to the clinic can be intimidating for anyone, you can lessen the stress and worry associated with doctor's appointments by taking steps to be sure that you're provided with all the information you need at the appointment. There are also ways you can improve the quality of your care by helping the doctor develop the best understanding possible of your symptoms and condition.

Recommended Related to Menopause

Understanding Menopause -- the Basics

Menopause simply means the end of menstruation for one year. As a woman ages, there is a gradual decline in the function of her ovaries and the production of estrogen. Around the time a woman turns 40, this process speeds up. This transition is known as perimenopause. Women typically menstruate for the last time at about 50 years of age. A few stop menstruating as young as 40, and a very small percentage as late as 60. Women who smoke tend to go through menopause a few years earlier than nonsmokers...

Read the Understanding Menopause -- the Basics article > >

Before the appointment, write down a list of things you need to tell the doctor. Note any concerns or questions you may have. Also write down the names and dosages of any prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications or supplements you are taking. It is very important to take this list with you to the appointment -- don't assume you'll remember every single item. Before you leave the office, go over the list to be sure you've covered everything. This simple step benefits both you and your doctor by keeping the discussion focused and ensuring that all concerns are addressed.

Don't hesitate to use the words "I don't understand." Doctors are only human and may not always know when they haven't explained something well or in terms you can understand. Never feel embarrassed or shy about asking for clarification about something the doctor says. When in doubt, repeat back what she has told you and ask if you've got it right. You can also ask if she recommends any specific reading materials about your condition.

If your doctor asks questions that sound embarrassing or overly personal, remember that the information you provide enables her to better establish a diagnosis, or to determine which treatment is most appropriate for you. Never fib in response to questions about alcohol or drug use, sexual history, or other lifestyle matters. Be honest about the extent to which you are taking your prescriptions or following a treatment plan. Withholding the truth can affect the quality of your care and can even lead to a wrong diagnosis.

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