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Your Guide to Menopause

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This content is created or selected by the Healthgrades editorial team and is funded by an advertising sponsor. The content is subject to the Healthgrades medical review process for accuracy, balance and objectivity. The content is not edited or otherwise influenced by the advertisers appearing on this page except with the possible suggestion of the broad topic area. For more information, read the Healthgrades advertising policy.

Medical Gaslighting and Menopause

Medically Reviewed By Stacy A. Henigsman, DO

Menopause symptoms, like hot flashes or depression, are real, and there is treatment that can help. Getting medical care can help you learn more about these changes and find the right treatment to improve your quality of life.

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“Medical gaslighting” is a term used to describe when a person feels a doctor has dismissed symptoms without further diagnosis. This can be particularly frustrating for people entering perimenopause — also known as the transition to menopause — or actually going through menopause.

However, there is treatment available for menopause symptoms. Some people choose hormone therapy, while others prefer a more natural approach. Menopause is a typical life transition, and you can work with your doctor to better understand symptoms, find out about treatment options, and embrace lifestyle changes to improve your well-being.

Know the facts about menopause

You may not be aware of the symptoms of menopause before they occur. Learning about them — and how common many of them are — may help you feel more confident in expressing your concerns about your symptoms and asking for treatment.

Here’s what you might encounter during the transition to menopause or menopause itself:

  • Hot flashes: One of the most common symptoms is hot flashes. Their nighttime counterpart, night sweats, is common too. In fact, research suggests that about 80% of women experience vasomotor symptoms like hot flashes during menopause. You can even experience hot flashes before you notice changes to your menstrual cycle.
  • Physical and cognitive symptoms: Vaginal dryness, changes in your sleep patterns, and difficulty concentrating might also be noticeable. 
  • Emotional changes: Some women find that perimenopause and menopause make them feel sad, fatigued, or listless.

How to find the right care

It might take some time, but you can find a supportive doctor who understands your concerns.

Here’s how to make sure you get the care you need as you navigate the transition to menopause:

  • Look for recommendations: Ask friends, especially friends who’ve gone through treatment for menopausal symptoms, for doctor recommendations. Let them know what you’re looking for in a doctor.
  • Find a doctor with specialized training in treating menopause: The North American Menopause Society offers a Menopause Practitioner credential to healthcare professionals with demonstrated expertise in this specialized area.
  • Bring a relative or close friend to appointments: They can make you feel at ease and help you take notes during the appointments.
  • Keep track of your symptoms: Write down specific changes you notice for a time and how they affect your daily activities. This can help you explain to your doctor exactly what you need or want to experience with treatment.
  • Ask your doctor about natural remedies: Some people implement holistic practices as part of their lifestyle changes, such as herbal teas, dietary supplements, or cryotherapy sessions. Ask your doctor about these options according to your medical history.
  • Switch doctors if necessary: If you don’t feel comfortable with a doctor, or they seem to be downplaying your symptoms, remember you can always get a second opinion.

Takeaway

Menopause is a new season of life, and it’s typical to have questions about symptoms and the future. If you’ve experienced negative interactions with doctors, try not to let that discourage you from getting care and finding treatment.

If menopause symptoms interfere with your daily activities, it may be time to talk with your doctor about treatment options or to find a doctor who makes you feel confident about this life transition.

Connecting with others at this stage of life can also be a great way to feel empowered.

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  1. Avis NE, et al. (2018). Vasomotor symptoms across the menopause transition: Differences among women. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0889854518300652?via%3Dihub
  2. Food and Drug Administration. (2023). FDA approves novel drug to treat moderate to severe hot flashes caused by menopause [Press release]. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-novel-drug-treat-moderate-severe-hot-flashes-caused-menopause
  3. Perimenopause and depression. (n.d.). https://adaa.org/find-help-for/women-menopause
  4. SWAN fact sheet: Hot flash fact sheet. (2023). https://www.swanstudy.org/wps/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/SWAN-Fact-Sheets-Hot-Flashes.pdf
  5. The North American Menopause Society. (2020). “The Menopause Guidebook.” Pepper Pike, OH: The North American Menopause Society. https://www.menopause.org/publications/consumer-publications/-em-menopause-guidebook-em-9th-edition
  6. What is menopause? (2021). https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-menopause
  7. What’s an NCMP? (n.d.). https://www.menopause.org/for-women/whats-an-ncmp

Medical Reviewer: Stacy A. Henigsman, DO
Last Review Date: 2023 May 4
View All Your Guide to Menopause Articles
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.