As successful women in our prime, we have the history, perspective, and courage to ask different questions of our doctors. And to demand more than a few minutes and another prescription. In our earlier decades, we may have operated under the assumption that doctor knows best because that’s how we were raised. We’d visit the doctor, have our complaint heard, and most likely get a prescription, then be sent on our merry way — all within about ten minutes.
Today, we have more options with our time and our money. There’s also transparency and education and our own wisdom and experience about how connected our bodies and minds are now. If you want to have the most productive and effective discussion possible with your doctor, you need to get curious about what’s going on with your body. By working with your doctor, you can realize optimum wellness personalized to beautiful, unique you.
Below are 7 topics to discuss with your doctor for personalized care and better health outcomes and questions to ask a doctor for each subject.
There is no one-size-fits-all nutrition program; this is a very personal endeavor. Optimizing your nutrition takes some sleuthing that may involve blood, saliva, stool, and genetic testing. Armed with this knowledge, your physician can help you optimize your nutrition and nutrient absorption.
Questions to ask a doctor about nutrition:
If you want to learn more about nutritional changes as you get older, check out this article about why good nutrition looks different after 50.
In perimenopause and menopause, the sex hormones — estrogen, progesterone, testosterone — get a lot of air time, but the most important hormone to be concerned about is actually cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone designed to join its partner, adrenaline, in an acutely dangerous situation and then clear out. But if you’re a high achiever who has been living with chronic stress and a poor diet, you may have an overabundance of cortisol… which leads to the next topic, inflammation.
Questions to ask a doctor about hormones:
Chronic inflammation can show up in many different ways. The causes of inflammation are microbes, allergens, toxins, poor diet, and stress. Nutrients and phytonutrients found in food can help to mediate the complex process of inflammation through their effects on microorganisms in the gut.
Questions to ask a doctor about inflammation:
When our digestive system is not functioning optimally, serious health problems can develop. It’s important to create and maintain a symbiotic relationship with the trillions of microorganisms that live in our digestive tract. By removing food triggers and nourishing with key nutrients, you can maintain a healthy microbial balance in the gut. If you are experiencing digestive issues, take a food and symptom diary to your next appointment.
Questions to ask a doctor about digestion:
Toxins enter our bodies through our food, get absorbed through the skin, and from our environment through the air we breathe. Knowing that there are several ways toxins get into our bodies will help us recognize that there are several ways for them to get out. Rather than think of detoxification as an event, think of it as a lifestyle. Your body has built-in detoxification pathways that can be supported through nutrition and a detox lifestyle.
Questions to ask a doctor about detoxification:
Feeling tired and sleepy is more common than the so-called common cold. Get to the root cause of the feeling that you never have enough gas in the tank. Causes could include nutrient deficiencies, dehydration, sleep disorders, poor diet, lack of movement, stress, caffeine, and a disrupted circadian rhythm.
Questions to ask a doctor about low energy:
Mindfulness meditation can improve your mental health, help you focus, sleep better, reduce stress, and calm your anxiety. It’s an easy thing to put off or shrug off, but this simple practice can yield immense benefits. You don’t have to be a yogi — just start with five minutes a day.
Questions to ask a doctor about a busy mind:
These are not easy questions, but they are the right ones to ask for optimal wellness. Just as your body is an interconnected system of systems, the wellness factors above are intertwined; if you improve one thing, everything else benefits. Wouldn’t you rather fix the cause than take a drug to suppress the symptoms?
If your current doctor cannot engage at this level — due to lack of training in nutrition, a business model focused on volume, or a quick-draw with the prescription pad — consider finding a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner. In addition to having earned their medical degree, these doctors have formal training in Functional Medicine, which means getting to the root cause of what ails you. Exercise your Prime Women power, and travel the path to optimal wellness.