Reconnecting With Your Doctor
If your childbearing years are over, it may have been a year or more since you last saw your OB/GYN. For a while now, you've had your yearly exams, but hopefully there hasn't been much more to talk about. While still something of an intimate relationship, the closeness you had to your medical care provider may have waned since you've not been pregnant or post-partum. But if you are in your 40s, it may be time start reestablishing a closer relationship with your doctor. Perimenopause is on the way (or may be here!) and you are going to need some extra support again.
For a woman who is actively mothering, even mothering small children, menopause may be far from your mind. Menopause, you might think, is for older women, and you are not old, and you definitely don't feel old. A random suddenly overwhelming feeling of heat is not a hot flash, you are sure. Variability in your menstrual cycles is stress, you think. And that may be true - or it may be not. Perimenopause is the period leading up to menopause and it can start years before you are actually menopausal.
Perimenopause and menopause is a winding, sometimes long path, not a single event. And your doctor, during the hormonal uncertainty of this time period, is not just an exam-giver. She or he is a resource.
Keep your appointments
Sure, you don't really want to face what it means to age. That's quite normal. But now is not the time to slack off on your medical care. If you are in your early 40s, make and keep your annual appointment with your doctor. It's not just for breast exams and pelvic exams, it's for talking about your overall health. Your doctor will ask you different questions as the years pass in an effort to ascertain where you are in the perimenopause/menopause scheme of things.
Be honest and open
As much as you might like to deny what is happening, being honest and open with your doctor about even the smallest of symptoms will help your doctor to determine what treatment or assistance, if any, is right for you. Your doctor can reassure you that you do not have to go through this alone, can offer tips for managing symptoms (sometimes from her own experience!), and suggest diet and exercise modifications that can help you. Your doctor can offer literature, suggest books or websites, or even support groups if that is appropriate for you.
Call if you need to
During this time, you may or may not need to see your doctor more frequently - but you should never feel odd about calling your doctor between visits if you need her. You and your doctor are partners in your care, and if you need to sort through an emerging symptom or side effect, your doctor should be there for you.
You will get through this change of life, just as you have made it through all the changes in your life that came before. Working closely with a trusted medical care provider can make it that much easier.
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