Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
Your first appointment will likely be with your primary care physician or a gynecologist. If you're seeking treatment for infertility, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in reproductive hormones and optimizing fertility (reproductive endocrinologist).
Because appointments can be brief, and it can be difficult to remember everything you want to discuss, it's a good idea to prepare in advance of your appointment.
What you can do
To make the best use of the limited time, plan ahead and make lists of important information, including:
- Detailed descriptions of all your symptoms and when they began. For instance, keeping track of the irregularity of your periods or lack of periods on a calendar provides your doctor useful information.
- Names and dosages of all medications you take, including nonprescription drugs and supplements.
Questions you might ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my irregular periods?
- Are there any other possible causes?
- What tests do I need to find out why I'm having this problem?
- What treatments are available? What side effects can I expect?
- How will these treatments affect my sexuality?
- What do you feel is the best course of action for me?
- What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Are there any restrictions that I need to follow?
- Should I see a specialist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover it?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
Don't hesitate to ask additional questions during your appointment.
Questions your doctor may ask
To gain a better understanding of what you're going through, your doctor may ask you several questions. Think about how you'll respond — and even write out some answers — in advance of your appointment so that you're fully prepared and don't forget any important details.
Questions your doctor may ask include:
- Do you have occasional menstrual periods or no periods at all?
- Are you experiencing hot flashes, vaginal dryness or other menopausal symptoms?
- How long have you had your symptoms?
- Have you ever had ovarian surgery?
- Have you undergone treatment for cancer?
- Do you or any family members have any systemic or autoimmune diseases, such as hypothyroidism or lupus?
- Have any members of your family been diagnosed with premature ovarian failure?
- How much distress do your symptoms cause you?
- Do you feel depressed?
- Did you have any difficulties with previous pregnancies?
- Have you experienced unexplained weight gain or weight loss?
- What medications or vitamin supplements do you take?
During your appointment, speak up if you don't understand something. It's important that you understand the reason for any tests or treatments that are recommended.
- Rebar RW. Premature ovarian failure. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2009;113:1355.
- Do I have premature ovarian failure (POF)? National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. http://www.nichd.nih.gov/publications/pubs/pof/index.cfm. Accessed Nov. 16, 2010.
- Lobo RA. Menopause: Endocrinology, consequences of estrogen deficiency, effects of hormone replacement therapy, treatment regimens. In: Katz VL, et al. Comprehensive Gynecology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2007. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-4/0/1524/0.html. Accessed Nov. 16, 2010.
- Welt CK. Pathogenesis and causes of spontaneous premature ovarian failure. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov. 15, 2010.
- Bulun SE, et al. The physiology and pathology of the female reproductive axis. In: Kronenberg HM, et al. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/191205553-3/0/1555/0.html#. Accessed Nov. 16, 2010.
- Kalu E, et al. Spontaneous premature ovarian failure: Management challenges. Gynecological Endocrinology. 2008;24:273.
- Nelson LM, et al. Evaluation of spontaneous premature ovarian failure. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov. 15, 2010.
- Nelson LM, et al. Management of spontaneous premature ovarian failure. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov. 15, 2010.
- Coddington CC (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 29, 2010.
- Dietary Reference Intakes for calcium and vitamin D. Institute of Medicine. http://www.iom.edu/vitamind. Accessed Dec. 10, 2010.