• perimenopause;
  • menopause;
  • women's health;
  • clinic visits;
  • grounded theory

Background.  Although studies show that women view perimenopause as a natural process, few studies explore the experiences of Taiwanese mid-life women who visit clinics for perimenopausal health problems. Research is required to understand the patterns and explanations for the women's behaviours in the process of seeking medical help. Such understanding will help guide teaching and care-giving approaches.

Aims.  To generate a descriptive theoretical framework about the experiences of women who visited traditional Chinese and Western medicine clinics in Taiwan to seek medical help for perimenopausal symptoms.

Methods.  A grounded theory research design was used. Thirty Taiwanese women, aged 48–55 years, participated in two face-to-face audio-taped interviews. Trained staff nurses conducted the interviews. Data collection, coding of interviews and field notes, and data analysis occurred simultaneously.

Findings.   ‘Relieving the discomforts’ was the core theme for describing and guiding the process of seeking medical help during the perimenopausal period. During the process, ‘Feeling the discomforts’ was identified as the antecedent condition. Analyses showed five dimensions to the women's help-seeking behaviours: (1) searching for medical help, (2) taking medicine, (3) reassurance of health, (4) desiring to be understood, and (5) emotional swings.

Conclusions.  Women in this study expected to relieve their perimenopausal discomforts by finding treatment to match their body constitution. They hoped to find a caring and understanding doctor or staff member who would carefully explain health-related issues to them. Health care providers need to consider women's individual health values and, based on these values, use different approaches to treat and teach women with perimenopausal symptoms and concerns.