Self-Advocacy During Perimenopause & Menopause

Self-Advocacy During Perimenopause & Menopause

Here’s a statistic that will blow your mind: Only 20% of OB-GYN residency programs offer formal menopause training, and 80% of OB-GYN residents indicate they are “barely comfortable” discussing or treating menopause. Now, keeping that in mind, digest this statistic: 85% of women will go to their doctor with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, but only 10.5% will receive any treatment from that doctor.  It’s not surprising that many women suffer with treatable symptoms when their doctors know little to nothing about this stage of their patient’s lives. What this tell us is that until the medical education system changes and introduces menopause as a specialty, we will need to be our own advocates. Keep reading to get the information you need to go to your doctor and start your journey to feeling better.

Know Thyself – The Advantages of Journaling

Keeping a journal of your symptoms will help you build a story for your doctor about what’s going on with your body and help you both to come up with a plan on how to proceed with your treatment. 

I suggest keeping this journal of physical symptoms (if you still get your period, you should include when, its length and how heavy or light it is), emotions, what you’re eating, your exercise and even how you’re sleeping in a calendar.  By doing this, you will start to notice patterns pop up that you may not have noticed had you not been writing everything down. All of this info will allow you provide your doctor with a complete list of your symptoms, and allow them to have a full picture of what you’ve been experiencing. Many times we get stressed or feel rushed while at the doctor and forget the (possible) long list of things we would like to discuss. This will accomplish two things: 1. They will get all of the info they need in an organized, clear manner, allowing them to further evaluate the types of testing you may need to rule out other health issues that may exist, and 2. with documented data, it will be far more difficult for them to be dismissive of your symptoms, or chalk them up to being “all in your head.” When coupled with the knowledge you’ll gain after doing your research on the topic (laid out in the next section), you will be well on your way to a plan for treating your symptoms.


Now that you have more awareness of your symptoms, it’s time to do some digging to learn a about each of them and how they affect your health, as well as what the potential options are for relief. 

Decoding Your Symptoms

Each of the resources below can give you the information you need to have a better understanding of the symptoms you could be experiencing and how to both express them to your doctor as well as options for treatment.  I can attest to the fact that just knowing that what you’re feeling is a legitimate symptom of perimenopause or menopause will give you more control over the ability to fix the issues you’ve been experiencing.

  • Resources

    • Elektra Health: An online community that offers education, telemedicine and a community for women going through perimenopause and menopause. It offers a monthly or yearly membership for full access, but does have free educational resources, a blog and an email newsletter. 
    • Let’s Talk Menopause: This US-based nonprofit was formed to change the conversation around menopause so that women could get the information they need and the healthcare they deserve. The site has lots of information regarding symptoms, treatments, research information and even a symptom tracer form to help organize your thoughts in advance of meeting with your healthcare provider.
    • North American Menopause Society: this professional organization for menopause-specific, healthcare providers also provides information and guidance for women going through perimenopause and menopause, as well as a database of certified practitioners that you can search to find a qualified provider.
    • The ‘Pause Life: Created by Dr. Mary Claire Haver as a resource to help women in her practice as well as those with limited resources to menopause information, the organization has expanded to paid as well as free resources to information on symptoms, treatments, and healthcare professionals that are menopause specific.
  • Options for treatment

    • Diet & Exercise
      • Focusing on what’s going into your body and giving it the nutrients it needs (and avoiding the things it doesn’t) can be very helpful in making your perimenopause and menopause symptoms better. This can help you sleep (and your body regenerate) better, as well as fuel your body to function optimally, especially if you decide to couple a new diet with an exercise routine. 
    • Supplements
      • There are many supplement companies providing products focused on perimenopause and menopause symptom relief. While many of these don’t have basis in scientific studies, some do and can be helpful.  This article from The Cleveland Clinic is great at explaining what to look for when choosing a supplement.
    • Stress Reduction
      • Do all the things that work for you to reduce stress – reading, taking a walk, yoga and/or meditation, getting out in the sun (studies have shown this will increase your serotonin production, which helps elevate your mood), visiting with friends – all of these things can help reduce stress. When you are stressed, your cortisol levels can increase, increasing anxiety, sleeplessness and potentially cause depression. 
    • HRT
      • HRT got a very bad rap after the Women’s Health Initiative research study run in ‘90’s was halted due to an increase in cancer found in the some of the women in the study. The flaw in the study, that has been subsequently isolated and proven true, was that that average age of women in the study was 65 years old.  New studies have shown that HRT, when taken within 10 years of the onset of menopause, before or after menopause, is very effective at both managing symptoms as well as not increasing the occurrence of cancer; in fact, the benefits can far outweigh the risks, including better quality of sleep and less fatigue, a reduction in the risk of osteoporosis and broken bones, and a decrease in recurrent UTIs, painful sex and vaginal dryness. New research done by The Menopause Society can be read in full here.

Being Your Own Advocate

Now that you know what’s happening, what it means, and some potential solutions, it’s time to speak with your doctor. 

We would suggest writing all of this information you’ve collected down, perhaps even writing a script for yourself.  Being at the doctor can be stressful, especially if you’re feel as if you have an issue that is significantly impacting the quality of your daily life. Having all your thoughts laid out can help so you can completely cover the topics you’d like to discuss as well as convey everything in a rational way to have a good conversation with your doctor.

This conversation should include options that you feel comfortable with in your healthcare treatment. You should be able to ask for the treatment that you feel is best for your personal preference and physical situation.  If your doctor is skeptical about HRT, provide them with The Menopause Society’s guidance on the subject; if they refuse to provide to treatment you would like, find a new doctor. This can be difficult, especially if you live in a remote location, but there are several groups that provide telehealth appointments so you can get the care you deserve.


Hopefully, you feel more comfortable and confident in taking control of your perimenopause and menopause healthcare options.  I know this can be daunting, but having the information you need to understand what’s happening during this phase of your life makes things easier to deal with.  You know yourself and your body best, so don’t be shy about taking control of what happens to it and coming out better on the other side of your journey. 

MAS is here for you and we invite you to join our community to share information and get support from others going through the same things.  Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social media @modernageskin.




Taking Care of You: The empowered woman’s guide to better health

If you want a great read that’s a little less clinical, check out Jancee Dunn’s Hot and Bothered: What No One Tells You About Menopause and How to Feel Like Yourself Again

Jancee is an amazing writer and delivers essential information to navigate menopause with wit, humor and the thoroughness you’ve been looking for on the topic.


Midday Health (

An app created by health providers to aid women anywhere in their menopause journey get information on what’s happening to their bodies and gain access to solutions – either medical or lifestyle change specific.


Docs to follow on SM (they each have their own practices that offer telemedicine services as well as education)

Dr. Heather Hirsch

Dr. Mary Claire Haver

  • Haver also has a diet specifically created for perimenopausal & menopausal women that helps improve symptoms associated with menopause called The Galveston Diet

Online Platforms that provide telemedicine specifically focused on mid-life and menopausal heath issues in women:




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