When should I see a doctor about menopause?

By Julia W. – RN, BSN

With Google and medical information at the tip of our fingertips, it can be hard to determine when answers online are sufficient to diagnose your health concerns. People in menopause particularly struggle with this question, “Should I see a doctor, or is this normal?” This guide will help you navigate this question as you sail through the unpredictable seas of your menopause journey.

How Do I Know What Is Normal And What Isn’t?

There are at least 34 symptoms related to the hormone fluctuations that occur during menopause. For example, women in menopause may experience heart palpitations, depression, dizziness, and fatigue. Yet, these symptoms may not necessarily be from fluctuating estrogen levels.  

Most of us turn to the internet when we have questions about our health. In fact, we often use the internet as a buffer between ourselves and our doctor. We know our doctors are busy, and it is often hard to get a timely appointment. If we aren’t sure if our symptoms are normal or not, it can make us feel apprehensive about taking our doctor’s time.

Learning as much as you can about perimenopause and menopause can help you start to weed out what is normal and what isn’t. Find your information from credible resources, such as healthcare organizations, hospitals, and medical professionals. Because perimenopause can start before age 40 in some women, it is never too early to learn what to expect during this transition. Your best resource, however, is your doctor. 

When Should I See My Doctor?

Most people do not see their doctor unless they are sick or are concerned about something. However, being reactive when it comes to your body does not foster overall health and wellbeing. Therefore, it is necessary to stay current with your preventative health screenings and check-ups to ensure that you are on the path to avoiding preventable diseases and catching chronic conditions early. 

Regular preventative screenings

Women should see their doctor annually for preventative exams and screenings unless they have chronic health conditions requiring frequent monitoring. Your doctor should check your vital signs, listen to your heart and lungs, and look at your eyes, ears, nose, and throat. They should also feel your thyroid and abdominal organs, perform a breast exam, and pelvic exam. You may need blood work to monitor your cholesterol levels and check your thyroid hormones. Annual exams can help you feel more confident when unexpected symptoms like dizziness or heart palpitations occur.

Seeing your doctor at the start of your menopause journey

When you suspect you are in perimenopause, it is a great time to check in with your gynecologist. Ideally, it is helpful to see a gynecologist specializing in menopause. Be prepared for your visit by presenting a log of your symptoms (especially any changes in your menstrual period) and come with questions in hand. Some women use either their gynecologist or primary care doctor to perform all of their health care needs. If you prefer to work with one doctor, make sure your doctor is agreeable as some doctors may not feel comfortable providing comprehensive full-body care. 

When to see your doctor about worrisome symptoms

Given the nebulous nature of menopause symptoms, it is hard to know when you should talk with your doctor. However, when you have consistent annual exams and have connected with your gynecologist about starting menopause, it can make it much easier to discern when you need to be concerned about symptoms. A good rule of thumb is if you are concerned, your doctor will want to know. Don’t hesitate to call your doctor’s office and speak with a nurse or leave a message for your doctor. Based on the information you provide about your symptoms, your doctor will guide you on whether you should be seen for a focused exam (say, to check in on your heart palpitations). 

What if my doctor doesn’t think I am in menopause?

Unfortunately, some women find that their doctors are not receptive to symptoms of menopause. To strengthen your case with your doctor and provide all the information they might need to give you a proper diagnosis, track your symptoms on an app like Caria over a period of time. With Caria, you can also export a report of your symptoms and share a PDF or printout with your doctor. If you find your doctor is still not listening to you or you feel disregarded, seek a second opinion. Many outstanding healthcare providers love helping women thrive in menopause and beyond.

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At my doctor surgery in the UK we don’t get annual check ups. It’s just not a thing. We get a smear test once every 3 years and we can have a wellness check once we hit 40. I had that and it was just questions about your lifestyle, weight check, BP and a cholesterol test.
I would love an annual check but we can only go to see our doctor if we are unwell (at the moment we can’t even do that. We can call, tell the receptionist our problem and they will get a doctor or nurse to telephone you. The doctor/nurse then decides if you need medication or a physical visit with the doctor. Health checks are not available at all right now. FYI neither are dentist check ups. Emergency dentistry only).

I agree, menopause just feels like something we have to put up with in the UK. I feel it’s treated like something I should just get on with because I’m a woman. The many, sometimes vague symptoms make me sound like I’m just complaining. Presently reading posts on here and googling information for alternative medication instead of the antidepressants and HRT (which caused extra painful symptoms so I stopped taking them) which was the only things offered. Worry that everything will be blamed on menopause and something could be missed. Concerned that with no proper health checks I’m living with some times debilitating symptoms that could be managed better …just need a GP with better understanding 🙁

I’ve been concerned about some of my symptoms so this is a great reminder that I should take action.

I am going through menopause and I am only 37 😒, I went to doctor, he knows my situation and he only asked me to take vitamin D . I don’t know if it is enough to treat my situation .
Worried .

Hi Zee,

I’m Robin, I’m 39 and I started going through menopause at 37. My obgyn did blood work and tested my FSH levels and found that my hormone levels were extremely high, putting me into menopause.It’s not just taking vitamin d, you gotta take calcium for your bones, magnesium for sleep , b complex to help with the mood swings/anxiety, drinking more water, changing your eating habits, walking, doing yoga etc……. it’s a lot to deal with but it can managed. You have to do your own research and do what’s comfortable for you. You have to what you need to do to put your mind at ease. Menopause is uncomfortable and scary, but you’ll be alright.

I have never had regular periods often no show for years even from late teens this was put down to depression, long term birth control injections and medication for depression. In the last year my mood swings have become terrible and all I am offered is HRT and bigger dose antidepressants there must be a better way.

I am 58 and been having significant menopausal symptoms for 4 years. Tried hrt and ur was fine for 1 year. Then stopped working so I creased dose and had really bad side effects. Struggled on for 18 months. Had what was effectively a breakdown. Started taking CBD oil and never felt better. Almost instant relief. No side effect. Obviously not available on UK NHS but preferred to pay to get the relief I need. I was absolutely at rockbottom. So much better now. If you can afford it, try it, but make sure you get a good solid reputable supplier.

Can you recommend a supplier? Thanks

Hi… great read! I’m 42 in November and I have been having hot flashes, night sweats, really bad insomnia and an existing knee and back problem seem worse… amongst other things… but I have a complicated medical history to do with my kidneys and bladder (in fact my periods stopped entirely for over 3 and a half years and been sporadic to say the least in the 3 years since). I’ve put off going to the doctors for a long time and appointments haven’t been easy to come by due to all the Corona virus stuff that’s gone on. But I just don’t know where to start with it all… any comments or advice would be very much appreciated…tysm x