Many women carry a healthy degree of skepticism into their medical encounters, and with good reason: there are plenty of “practitioners” out there who will insist on frequent visits, blood tests and overpriced treatments with little visible benefit to you. However there are some really good reasons why you should have regular check-ins with a consistent medical practitioner during the menopausal transition.
Menopause is really just a moment in time when your ovaries pop out their last egg (or stop functioning for other reasons). The menopausal transition however is a period of time that can start 10 years or so before this, and continue on for potentially 10 or more years afterwards.
The hormonal changes in early perimenopause (the leadup to menopause) are very different from your hormonal state in late perimenopause, early menopause and late menopause. This is the reason why many women’s symptoms change over time and they require different treatment.
Even once you are established on a stable treatment we recommend you check in with your treating doctor at least once a year and have your symptoms and stage of the menopausal transition reassessed.
As we age our bodies change and “life happens”. We may develop new medical conditions, start new medications or even develop new allergies.
Regular reviews with your menopause practitioner will ensure that these don’t interact with your menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) or other menopausal treatment. For example, there are certain medical conditions which would make hormonal treatment less safe such as hormone-sensitive cancers, blood clots, lupus or uncontrolled high blood pressure.
There are also potential interactions between medications, so you should always make sure your doctor is aware of all your medications, supplements and other treatments when they prescribe new medication.
As mentioned earlier, symptoms can change depending on your stage of the menopausal transition. For example, early in perimenopause you may still have regular periods and no hot flushes but get worsening pre-menstrual mood and migraines.
Later, as you approach menopause and ovarian function declines, you can get wildly fluctuating or low levels of estrogen (it might even change from day to day). This often results in new hot flushes or night sweats, which may be relieved with estrogen or other treatments.
Also, even women who are well established on treatment that was suiting them well can develop a sensitivity or adverse reaction later on, such as a skin reaction to patches.
Life is busy, and women at midlife tend to focus on everyone else’s needs more than their own, and so we don’t always get to the GP for those regular “check ups”. Often it’s not until something is really wrong that we make the time to go to the doctor.
Thankfully we now have Telehealth options for good menopause care, which mean less wasted time away from work or home to visit a doctor. You may see your menopause doctor at times when you haven’t been to the GP for a while, which is a great opportunity to review those screening activities that keep us all healthy and happy for longer.
For women on MHT it is critically important to make sure screening activities like blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes checks, breast and cervical screening and cardiovascular risk assessments are up to date. A review with your menopause practitioner is a great time for opportunistic “checklist checkups”.
Just as your body and symptoms will change over time, some treatments are better as short-term solutions whilst others are better choices for longer term treatment. For example, women who need contraception or treatment for heavy bleeding in perimenopause may start treatments that are not meant to be continued after 50, such as the pill.
Also, certain progestins (a hormonal component of some MHT regimens) can slightly increase breast cancer risk if used for 5 years or more; we therefore usually recommend swapping to different products if it becomes clear that women will be using MHT for some years.
As you can see there are good reasons why menopausal treatment should not be considered “set and forget”. We recommend reviews every few months whilst your doctor is adjusting your treatment and then annual reviews once established. Of course, you should also book a review with your menopause practitioner anytime you are experiencing symptom changes or problems with your treatment.
There is a sixth (and best) reason to book a Review though: because the WellFemme team is here on the menopause journey alongside you, and we LOVE to see you regularly to hear how you’re travelling 🙂
If you can’t find the professional help you need for your menopause or perimenopausal symptoms then book a Telehealth consultation with an expert WellFemme menopause doctor.
WellFemme is Australia’s first dedicated Telehealth menopause clinic, servicing locations nationwide including: Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Darwin, Perth, Hobart, Brisbane, Dubbo, Bendigo, Broken Hill, Broome, Alice Springs, Launceston, Cairns, Mildura, Lightning Ridge, Kalgoorlie, Albany, Toowoomba, Charleville, Port Headland, Katherine, Ballarat, Coober Pedy, Bourke, Albury… and your place! 🙂