Looking for a new doctor

Many women find that once their surgery is over, their surgeon may no longer be their best resource, especially for balancing HRT. Some OB/GYNs focus so much on the OB part of their practice that they are unfamiliar with hormone needs in menopause. Some doctors have such a limited interest and knowledge of hormones that if the one brand they know of doesn't work, they blame you (here: have an antidepressant and stop whining). Many surgeons are just that: doctors who perform surgeries, not long term health management practitioners.

For whatever reason, if you don't feel your doctor is open to your needs and desires for menopausal health management, you have two choices. You can re-educate your doctor or you can find another one who suits you better. Many women have found that returning to a GP or family doc is all they need to do.

What kind of doctor do I need?

There is no clinical specialty in surgical menopause, or even menopause in general. Nonetheless, it is a growing field and practitioners are gradually carving out a new interest in menopausal issues. They don't necessarily all come from the same original field, however. Some are GYNs, some are endocrinologists (specialists in glandular disorders), some may even be internists or general family doctors. What unites them is that they are interested and willing to educate themselves in this growing field. These specialists can be especially helpful if you have other needs that affect your hormone balance, or you are having particular difficulty finding balance.

But there's no reason why you must go to a specialist. Hormone-prescribing and the necessary followup are certainly well within the capabilities of a willing family doc—but the crucial part of that is the "willing." To some extent, having one doctor manage all of your medical care does provide a greater continuity in making sure that the person who is prescribing your HRT is also aware of all of the other health-related things you're facing. Additionally, you may find that your family doctor is willing to be less dogmatic about a single "right" answer as some specialty clinics or practitioners are. So there's no correct answer here, other than finding someone who has enough interest to work with you.

Ways to find a new doctor

But if you've gone through all the doctors you already know, how do you find a new one who is knowledgeable and willing to work with you? Well, one good way is the old word of mouth trick: ask around. Got any friends on hormones? How about asking your hairdresser who's on hormones and happy with their doc—believe us, hairdressers hear it all. Another knowledgeable group is hospital nurses, especially ones who work with GYNs. Sometimes your local pharmacist can tell you who's writing a lot of hrt prescriptions. Of course, you'll want to interview the staff (not the receptionist—tell them what you are doing and ask to speak with the nurse) of any recommended doctor to make sure their practice really is open to what it is you want.

A number of websites offer lists of doctors. Everyone from the North American Menopause Society to Menopause Matters (UK) to the smallest personal website is making recommendations these days. Of course, you want to consider carefully the philosophical bias that drives each list provider and it's a good idea to check out any referrals with a your state licensing agency (don't be complacent: one of us was referred by a very reputable group to a great-sounding doc…who had just lost his practice privileges for something rather unsavory) as well as interviewing them before you actually spend money for a new-patient appointment.