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5 Questions My Doc Asked Me Because I'm Old

Photograph by Twenty20

I have reached the point in my life where I am no longer asked the date for the first day of my last period when checking in for a medical appointment. Instead, the staff inquires if I still have periods.


The first time this question was posed, it took everything I had not to slap the perky twenty-something nurse who had asked in the face. I was indignant.

But, at my last well-woman visit, I had to face the facts. I am now a "woman of a certain age." And if I thought pregnancy and the post-partum period were the most intense stages of hormonal upheaval in my life, the joke was on me.

The times, they are a changin'. And a visit to the doctor has suddenly become a whole lot more interesting.

Here are five ways the conversation is different:

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1. Are you truly "done"?

You may have reached a certain age, but your doctor will remind you it is still possible to become pregnant. After all the worrying I'd done about whether or not I'd be able to have a baby due to waning fertility, once I was past that point my doctor wanted to talk to me about birth control. But this time, he was referring to the permanent kind.

Why bother with the inconvenience of something like a daily pill when there are other alternatives? This will make you question if you truly are finished having babies. Yes, you were absolutely sure before you went in for your appointment, but you will leave with a strong desire to reassess your life.

My baby-making days are behind me. And that's OK.

2. Could you kindly move down the hall?

Once you are done having babies, the obstetrician part of "ob-gyn" doesn't apply to you. You'll be switched to another part of the practice you've been going to for years.

I actually report to an entirely different office now.

The doctor I see is one who was once in the rotation to potentially deliver my child. But he is done delivering babies and focuses solely on women in my stage of life now. His office is down the hall from the main one. Not a single pregnant woman in sight. I'm not sure whom they are trying to protect with this move. Are they afraid all the young, fertile women will make us old ladies weep for a time gone by? Or that seeing the future will scare the daylights out of expectant women?

3. Yes, no, maybe so?

My gynecologist was kind enough at my recent appointment not to ask if I was still having periods. Which reaffirmed why I have always liked him. But he did want to know if they are occurring regularly at this point. I told him they are indeed. In fact, right now, I'm having one every two weeks. Which led to further inquiry. He nodded empathetically with each answer and jotted notes on my charts.

4. Is it hot in here, or is it just you?

Your doctor will ask you about a host of symptoms. It starts out kind of like small talk at a dinner party. Then, suddenly, you have been thrust into an intense game of 20 questions, and you are sitting in the hot seat. Speaking of which, are you experiencing hot flashes? Night sweats? Suffering from insomnia? Having frequent headaches? Trouble concentrating? Going to the bathroom more often?

Do you make it in time?

For example, are you interested in sex in the first place? Or has your libido gone out the window? Does it hurt when you have sex?

What about bowel movements? I did not realize I had actually said, "What the does that have to do with anything?" out loud until my doctor responded. (Ooops.) He gently explained lowering estrogen levels also impact bowel function. I smiled weakly and said yes, he could check those boxes on "the list"—he clearly was reading from one—as well.

Then the really fun questions started.

5. Getting any lately?

Your doctor is going to want to know about your sex life, but for totally different reasons than you are used to. For example, are you interested in sex in the first place? Or has your libido gone out the window? Does it hurt when you have sex? Are things getting a little … dry? Falling estrogen levels can wreak havoc on your romantic endeavors. Your doctor will want to speak frankly about all this with you, for your own benefit. Those were questions I actually welcomed, because he had the answers and solutions I was seeking.

RELATED: 17 Signs You're an Older Mom

When a woman reaches this point in her life, she has two options: freak out or accept the inevitable.

I choose the latter.

My baby-making days are behind me. And that's OK. I love where I am in my life. My 40s have been the best decade by far. And if I can get through a visit to my gynecologist, I can handle anything that comes my way.

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