Going to the gynaecologist, or even just your GP can be stressful.When you’re going through the menopause you may feel overwhelmed on where to start researching or what to ask. Especially since appointments are quite short, you might feel there simply isn’t enough time to ask everything you want. Before you go in write down a list of the symptoms you are feeling. This will help if you get a case of foggy brain during the session. It can sometimes be intimidating going into an appointment, unsure if you are asking any ‘stupid’ questions. Remember it is their job to give you information and to help relieve you of any concerns. Feel free to use the questions below to help guide you on the kinds of topics you should bring up with your doctor.
Is HRT for me?
One of the main treatments of the menopause is Hormone Replacement Therapy. HRT is great as it can relieve many symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, reduced sex drive, and any mood swings. However, not every woman may be able to take it, or even want to. For instance, if you have a history of breast or ovarian cancer or have a history with blood clots then HRT may not be suitable for you. Other women may also find that they experience side effects from the therapy and choose it is not for them such as nausea, headaches or vaginal bleeding. Talk to your GP or your gynaecologist what options you may have in terms of treatment and also find out the different ways you can take HRT.
Why has my libido gone down?
We have discussed low sex drive on this website many times. However, it is a problem you should also bring up with your gynaecologist. It is especially important to bring this up if the sex you are having is uncomfortable or painful. If you find that your vagina is tight and dry and no lubricants or vaginal moisturisers are helping, this could mean that the problem is something that you won’t be able to solve with out the advice of a professional. A gynaecologist can help you figure out the best solution to your problem and in some cases prescribe medication to help.
How do I check for lumps and bumps at home?
Breast cancer can happen at any age. Because of this it’s important that we know how to examine ourselves at home for any lumps on our breasts. Currently it is recommended for women to get a pap smear every 3 to 5 years. This is too long for us to wait for our gynaecologist to check for us. Next time you’re in the office, ask for a quick demonstration or tutorial on how to check our own breasts and guide you on what to look for. Once you know how, you can do these checks as regularly as you want. I would recommend doing these in the shower when you’re already washing yourself there anyway.
Is my discharge normal?
Our vaginas are naturally ‘self-cleaning’. The discharge we have are a result of our vaginas flushing out any bacteria that is inside. The shifting levels of oestrogen, testosterone, and progesterone in our bodies can cause the discharge in our vaginas to change which can concern many women. This should not be a cause for concern unless it drastically changes in consistency, colour or odour which could be a red flag for an infection inside. While your gynaecologist will already be able to spot anything that is concerning during the evaluation, if you have worries about anything it is always better to bring it up.
Should I still use contraceptives?
It may not make sense to still use contraception when perimenopausal or even menopausal. While less likely to occur, pregnancy is still a possibility during perimenopause and menopause. This is because (while irregular) you might still be having periods, in turn still ovulating and producing an egg. It is still important to ask your gynaecologist or GP if you should still take contraceptives and if so what kinds. For instance, if you use the ‘pill’ or the ‘patch’ you might have to use alternative form of contraception as they have the potential increase the risk of blood clots. However, some women also find that oral contraceptives help with their symptoms as they help stabilise their hormones. Go over all these options with your GP or gynaecologist and come to a decision together.
Author: Erica Fraser