While you may initially see your family physician, he or she may refer you to a gynecologist. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
You may want to write a list that includes:
- Detailed descriptions of your symptoms
- The dates when your last two menstrual periods began
- Information about medical problems you've had
- Information about the medical problems of your parents or siblings
- All the medications and dietary supplements you take
- Questions you want to ask the doctor
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions ahead of time will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important, in case time runs out. For menstrual cramps, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms?
- Are there other possible causes for my symptoms?
- How do my symptoms compare with other menstruating girls or women?
- Are my symptoms likely to change over time?
- Do I need any tests?
- What treatments or home remedies might help?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may allow more time to go over additional questions you may have. Your doctor may ask:
- At what age did you begin menstruating?
- How far apart are your menstrual periods, and how long do they typically last?
- How heavy is your menstrual bleeding?
- Do you ever bleed between periods?
- How would you describe your symptoms?
- Where are your cramps located?
- Do you have any other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, back pain, dizziness or headache?
- Do your symptoms typically occur along with your period?
- Do you have any symptoms between periods?
- Do your symptoms cause you to limit your activities, such as staying home from work or school or avoiding exercise?
- If you're sexually active, do you experience pain with intercourse?
- Do you have difficulty or pain with bowel movements?
- What treatments have you tried so far, if any? Has anything helped?
- What medications, vitamins and supplements do you use?
- Have you been diagnosed with any other medical conditions?
- Do any of the women in your family have a history of similar symptoms?
What you can do in the meantime
In the time leading up to your appointment, you may find relief by taking a warm bath or applying a heating pad or hot water bottle to your abdomen. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, also may help.
May. 03, 2011
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- Smith RP, et al. Pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis of primary dysmenorrhea in adult women. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed March 24, 2011.
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- Gallenberg MM (expert opinion). Rochester, Minn. March 26, 2011.