Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, you may be referred immediately to a doctor who specializes in endocrine disorders (endocrinologist) or to a dermatologist.
Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment.
What you can do
- Be aware of pre-appointment restrictions. When you make your appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do to prepare.
- Write down your symptoms, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment. For example, if you've been feeling depressed or fatigued lately, tell your doctor. Also tell your doctor about any other changes in your appearance, such as weight gain or loss, changes in your breast size or muscle mass, new acne, or patches of dark, velvety skin.
- Write down key personal information, including any changes in your menstrual cycle and in your sex life. Let your doctor know if your libido has noticeably increased.
- Make a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins, creams or supplements you're taking or have used in the past. Include the specific name and dose of these medications and how long you've been taking them.
- Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to soak up all the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time with your doctor. For hirsutism, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
- What are other possible causes?
- What kinds of diagnostic tests do I need?
- What are my treatment options?
- If the first treatment I try isn't effective, what will we try next?
- How much will treatment improve my physical signs and symptoms?
- Will I need to be treated long term?
- What are the possible side effects of the medications you're recommending?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
- Will the medications you're recommending affect my ability to have children?
- How will you monitor my response to treatment over time?
- Are there alternatives to the primary approach you're suggesting?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Are there any restrictions I need to follow?
- Should I see a specialist?
- Are there brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?
Don't hesitate to ask your doctor any other questions you have about your condition.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:
- When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms worsened?
- Has your menstrual cycle changed, or have you stopped having your period?
- Have you gained weight? On what part of your body?
- Do you feel more fatigued or weaker than usual?
- Have you developed new acne?
- Have you noticed dark, velvety patches of skin, especially on your neck, armpits, inner thighs or under your breasts?
- Has the size of your breasts changed?
- Have you noticed a change in your muscle mass?
- Have others commented that your voice has changed?
- Have you noticed any changes in your interest in sex?
- Have you been diagnosed with other medical conditions?
- Has anyone in your family been treated for a condition that causes excess, unwanted hair?
- Are you planning to become pregnant soon?
What you can do in the meantime
If you've scheduled an appointment with your doctor to talk about excessive hair growth, you may already have tried and been disappointed with at-home treatments. such as shaving and drugstore wax kits. Because your doctor will want to see your hair growth pattern, it's best to avoid trying new at-home treatments in the days leading up to your appointment. It's natural to feel distressed by the effect the unwanted hair has on your appearance, but in most cases, your doctor will be able to help you find a treatment plan that improves your signs.
- Evaluation and treatment of hirsutism in premenopausal women: An Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. Chevy Chase, Md.: The Endocrine Society. http://www.endo-society.org/custom_apps/search.cfm?q=hirsutism. Accessed Oct. 29, 2010.
- Chang J, et al., eds. The Hormone Foundation's patient guide to the evaluation and treatment of hirsutism in premenopausal women. The Hormone Foundation. http://www.hormone.org/Resources/Patient_Guides/upload/Hirsutism_Patient_Guide.pdf. Accessed Oct. 29, 2010.
- Hirsutism. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merck.com/mmpe/sec10/ch124/ch124c.html?qt=hirsutism&alt=sh#sec10-ch124-ch124c-989. Accessed Oct. 29, 2010.