by Scholten A

Talking to Your Doctor About Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.
Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:
  • Bring someone else with you. Someone with whom you will review what is discussed in the doctor visit. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Do not be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.
  • Where can I get more information about PMS?
  • Should I have a physical examination?
  • Are there any tests I should have to rule out other causes of my symptoms?
  • Do you know what could be making my symptoms worse?
  • What treatments are available for PMS?
  • Are there medicines that can help me? If so:
    • How long will they take to work?
    • What benefits can I expect?
    • What side effects can I expect?
  • Have you helped other people with PMS?
  • Do you know any counselors who could help me with PMS?
  • Are there any support groups in the area for people with PMS?
If you decide to try counseling, interview counselors who treat people with PMS. Be sure that you feel comfortable with the counselor. Ask the following questions:
  • Do you have experience treating people with PMS?
  • What is your basic approach to treatment?
  • How long do I need treatment?
  • How long and how frequent are the treatment sessions?
  • What type of healthcare insurance is accepted?
  • Do you have special fee schedules and sliding scale fees to accompany various financial circumstances?
  • What lifestyle changes can help me to manage PMS? What can I do about my diet, exercise, and stress level?
  • What are my chances of alleviating symptoms of PMS?
  • What should I do if my symptoms get worse?
  • Will I have PMS all my life?

References

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Practice bulletin: premenstrual syndrome. ACOG. No. 15. April 2000.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Family Doctor.org website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/premenstrual-syndrome-pms.html. Updated August 2010. Accessed August 20, 2012.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) fact sheet. Women's Health.gov website. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/premenstrual-syndrome.cfm. Updated May 18, 2010. Accessed August 20, 2012.

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