You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or primary care provider. However, in some cases when you call to set up an appointment you may be referred immediately to a doctor who specializes in conditions affecting the female reproductive tract (gynecologist).
Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance to prepare.
- Write down symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Make a list of your key medical information, including any other conditions for which you're being treated, and the names of any medications, vitamins or supplements you're taking.
- Consider questions to ask your doctor and write them down. Bring along notepaper and a pen to jot down information as your doctor addresses your questions.
For premenstrual symptoms, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- Is there anything I can do to minimize PMS symptoms?
- Will my PMS symptoms eventually go away on their own?
- Could the symptoms that I'm experiencing indicate a more serious medical condition?
- Do you recommend treatment for PMS symptoms? What treatments are available?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
- Do you have 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 reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
Jan. 18, 2012
- How severe are your symptoms?
- On what days during your menstrual cycle are your symptoms at their worst?
- Do you have symptom-free days during your menstrual cycle?
- Can you anticipate when your symptoms are coming on?
- Does anything seem to make your symptoms better or worse?
- Do your symptoms interfere with your daily activities?
- Have you recently felt down, depressed or hopeless?
- Have you or has anyone in your family been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder?
- What treatments have you tried so far? How have they worked?
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- Colin CM, et al. Complications of menstruation; abnormal uterine bleeding. In: DeCherney AH, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment Obstetrics & Gynecology. 10th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2007. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aid=2388399. Accessed Nov. 22, 2011.
- Casper RF, et al. Treatment of premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov. 23, 2011.
- Frequently asked questions. Gynecologic problems FAQ057. Premenstrual syndrome. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/publications/faq/faq057.cfm. Accessed Nov. 23, 2011.
- Dog TL. Premenstrual syndrome. In: Rakel D. Integrative Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2007. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-2/0/1494/0.html. Accessed Nov. 23, 2011.
- Borenstein JE, et al. Using the daily record of severity of problems as a screening instrument for premenstrual syndrome. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2007;109:1068.
- Johnson SR. Premenstrual syndrome, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and beyond: A clinical primer for practitioners. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2004;104:845.
- Jing Z, et al. Chinese herbal medicine for premenstrual syndrome (review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2009:CD006414. http://www2.cochrane.org/reviews. Accessed Dec. 6, 2011.
- Panay N. Management of premenstrual syndrome: Evidence-based guidelines. Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Reproductive Medicine. 2011;21:221.
- Shulman LP. Gynecological management of premenstrual symptoms. Current Pain and Headache Reports. 2010;14:367.