A woman’s journey through menopause is an individual experience. However, women often experience menopausal symptoms such as mood swings, night sweats or hot flashes and don’t initially recognize them as symptoms of perimenopause. This can make the start of our transition through menopause a difficult journey. Women often feel blindsided by symptoms. Unheard by their doctors. And sometimes unaware of treatment options available to them. Finding a menopause clinic may not even be on their radar.
Similar to other transitions in women’s lives we can have a balance between medical and natural solutions. When we have our period. We can choose to use one or any combination of tampons, menstruation cups, hot water bottles or medication. The same goes for menopause. One option you might try is to find a clinic specializing in women’s health and menopause.
Finding a Menopause Clinic
The existence of a medical menopause clinic is not always common knowledge. And the process of getting a consult can be intimidating and seemingly inaccessible. Ironically, the symptoms we experience during perimenopause such as insomnia, depression, or lack of focus can further inhibit our ability to explore the option of going to a menopause clinic.
In this post, we’ll review how I went about finding a menopause clinic and my experience there. Hopefully reading about my experience as a patient at the Mount Sinai Menopause Clinic will encourage you to get a referral, if it’s something you think will help you through your menopause journey.
My experience at the Mount Sinai Hospital
Overall, my experience at the Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, has been fantastic. Although, admittedly, starting the process was quite intimidating. When symptoms that I thought were menopause started (for me it was hot flashes), I did what most women do, Google.
My initial internet search quickly informed me that what I was actually experiencing was perimenopause, not menopause and that progesterone is just as important as estrogen. I came to understand that my sleep troubles, forgetfulness and irritability were also symptoms.
What my internet education didn’t provide was a lot of information about menopause clinics and how to find support. Most articles and websites suggested that the only medical solution was through your family doctor.
A specialized clinic for women in menopause
After a little more research, I eventually found some information about menopause clinics. According to the website the Mount Sinai Menopause Clinic “.. .is a specialized clinic, caring for women experiencing menopausal symptoms in the perimenopausal and menopausal time of life.”
I was feeling encouraged already! The site was very informative, it was within driving distance for me, and they boasted a team of “expert gynecologists who completed sub-specialty training in mature women’s health and menopause.” They also included great information about what to expect at your visit.
It can be intimidating
It’s a referral clinic, which isn’t surprising. But after I took a quick look at the referral form, I felt overwhelmed and intimidated. The criteria included having validated menopausal symptoms and a list of tests that included a bone density test, mammogram and pelvic ultrasound.
Twelves months prior, I had a challenging experience with a gynecologist when my periods were heavy and erratic. Her treatment plan for me was surgery. When I declined that option the doctor gave me some pamphlets about menopause and moved on to the next patient.
After that experience, how would I ever get a doctor to validate my symptoms and get all those tests done? I also had an added layer of stress because I was doing this during the pandemic.
So, after searching and finally finding a menopause clinic, I did nothing for months. Every so often I would return to the Mount Sinai Hospital website wishing there was an easier way. Finally, I summoned the courage to talk to a doctor. I was determined to get a referral.
Becoming the hero of my health story
The choice to become a patient at a menopause clinic was never suggested to me by any doctor, nurse, other medical professional or naturopath.
To help facilitate the process I came prepared. I knew what tests I needed. And I insisted that I needed the tests done and I needed the referral. I had to bring the idea forward.
I was surprised by the relief I felt after knowing the referral was submitted. Even though it took time to get an appointment at the clinic, I started to feel better right away and more in control of my experience.
My first appointment was by phone because of the pandemic, but it was a great conversation and a thorough assessment of my situation. I immediately felt like this was the right place for me to be.
After asking about my health history, common symptoms, and specific perimenopause and menopause questions the doctor started explaining the options available to me. She explained the risks and benefits of things like hormone replacement therapy (HRT), how and when medication could be administered, and potential side effects.
Most importantly, she talked about why she believed these were the best choices for me.
We decided to try a transdermal estrogen patch with a daily oral progesterone pill. Many women have lingering concerns over the use of hormone replacement therapy. But the doctor at the clinic quickly addressed those concerns with easy to understand, scientific facts before I even had a chance to raise any concerns.
The goal was to educate me and it worked. I felt I was taking control of my menopause journey and getting the help I needed.
The best part was she called my pharmacy with the prescriptions right after we talked and I started the treatment two days later. Almost immediately I felt relief from my common perimenopause and menopause symptoms. And my mood and overall quality of life began to improve.
Annual Health Review
Now that I’m a patient at the clinic, I go to Mount Sinai for a yearly appointment. This past fall was the first time I went to the clinic in person and the experience was just as positive as my initial phone appointment.
My treatment plan was thoroughly reviewed and we had a more in depth conversation about my long term plan as I move through the various stages of menopause.
Totally worth it
Even though starting the process was intimidating and it can take a while to get an initial appointment, it was totally worth it. I compare it to signing your child up for daycare. When I was pregnant, daycare spots were hard to find and you had to sign up for one as soon as you found out you were expecting. So if a menopause clinic is something you want to explore, get the referral sooner than later.
My experience at the Mount Sinai Menopause Clinic has been excellent. The doctors prioritize the individual and their journey. I felt heard and understood – maybe for the first time. And now I feel confident that I have a plan to navigate this crazy journey. I hope my story inspires you. If you’re interested in finding a menopause clinic or a doctor specializing in menopause, the North American Menopause Society is always a great place to start.