How To Take A Menopause Test: A Quick Guide
Menopause is a natural process. It happens when your ovaries stop releasing mature eggs and reduce the production of progesterone and estrogen. You may start developing symptoms of menopause several years before it actually begins.
Menopause tests can help you know for sure if you’re entering menopause or if changes in your health are being caused by something else.
Is there a test for menopause?
You may be able to self-diagnose menopause by paying close attention to its symptoms. You may start noticing symptoms of menopause months to years before it actually starts. This transition period is called perimenopause. Some of the symptoms of menopause are:
- Thinning hair
- Dry skin
- Vaginal dryness
- Reduced sex drive
- Night sweats
- Hot flashes
- Mood changes
- Weight gain
- Irregular periods
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of fullness of breasts
Your doctor can also help you determine if you are going through menopause. They may ask you about your symptoms, perform some tests for menopause, and track your menstrual cycle.
Presently, no single menopause test is definitive enough to predict for sure when a woman is in menopause. But doctors may do several different kinds of tests for menopause to find out whether your symptoms are caused by menopause or something else.
How to test for menopause
The reduction in the levels of hormones that results from menopause often leads to a common misconception around testing. You might think that doctors can do a quick test of your hormone levels to find out if you’re going through menopause or not. However, women’s hormone levels are falling and rising constantly. Because of this, physicians may order multiple hormonal blood tests for menopause at different times during your cycle to get an overall assessment of your hormonal balance.
Home menopause test kits
Home menopause test kits measure the levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) in your urine. FSH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland. Its levels increase each month to stimulate the ovarian follicles to release a mature egg. During menopause, your ovaries stop producing eggs and the levels of FSH rise.
Home menopause tests detect the amount of FSH in your urine, but they can’t definitively detect whether you are in perimenopause or menopause. Whatever the results of the test may be, you should consult your doctor if you have menopausal symptoms.
Blood test for menopause
Your doctor may also order certain blood tests for menopause to confirm menopause or rule out any other medical condition such as a thyroid disorder. Some of the blood tests for menopause include:
An FSH test for menopause checks the levels of this hormone in blood, since the ovaries stop working during menopause. This causes the levels of the hormone to rise in menopausal women.
Since menopause may closely resemble hypothyroidism, your physician may order thyroid function tests to assess the health of your thyroid gland. That’s what a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test is for. If your thyroid hormones are low, it may indicate that your symptoms are a result of a thyroid problem.
Anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) is secreted by the ovarian follicles. Physicians consider its level as a measure of the total number of follicles left in a woman. This hormone test for menopause may help your physician predict when you might begin menopause if you aren’t there already.
Estradiol is the form of estrogen that circulates in your body during your reproductive years. During menopause, its level may decrease by about 10 times the premenopausal level and reach below 30 picograms per milliliter. If your levels of estradiol are consistently low, it may indicate that you are in menopause.
During your visit, your doctor may ask you about your symptoms and conduct a physical exam. They may test the pH of your vagina using a swab to confirm menopause. The pH of the vagina is around 4.5 during your reproductive years. During menopause, the pH of the vagina rises to 6.
Menopause symptom treatment
Menopause needs no therapeutic treatment. Instead, the focus of treatment is on relieving the symptoms and signs of menopause and managing or preventing chronic conditions, which may occur due to aging. Some of these treatments are:
- Hormone replacement therapy — One of the treatment options available to relieve hot flashes is estrogen therapy. The right dose of estrogen for you depends on your family and personal history. You may need progestin along with estrogen.
- Vaginal estrogen — You can take vaginal estrogen in the form of vaginal ring, tablet, or cream to relieve dryness of the vagina, discomfort during sex, and urinary symptoms.
- Antidepressants (low-dose) — Certain antidepressants that belong to the group selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are sometimes prescribed to relieve hot flashes.
- Medicine to treat or prevent osteoporosis — Depending on your individual needs, your doctor may advise drug treatments to treat or prevent osteoporosis. They may also recommend supplements containing vitamin D to strengthen your bones.
Home and lifestyle remedies
The following steps may reduce symptoms of menopause:
- Dress yourself in layers and go to a cooler place to deal with hot flashes. Avoid anything that triggers your hot flashes. Common triggers include caffeine, hot beverages, alcohol, stress, spicy foods, warm rooms, and hot weather.
- Use over-the-counter silicone or water-based vaginal moisturizers or lubricants to reduce vaginal discomfort.
- Get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverage.
- Practice techniques for relaxation such as guided imagery, deep breathing, meditation, yoga, etc.
- Do pelvic floor exercises such as Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor. This helps reduce urinary incontinence.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Include lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in your diet. Avoid sugars, saturated fats, and oils. Also include foods rich in phytoestrogens such as soybeans, lentils, flaxseed, chickpeas, and sage.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking increases your chances of developing stroke, heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis.
- Exercise regularly. It helps protect against various diseases associated with old age.
Menopause is a natural process which occurs when your ovaries stop releasing eggs. Though you may know that you are entering menopause by its various signs and symptoms, there are tests for menopause that may help you confirm your hunch. During menopause, your hormone levels decrease.
Your physician may order blood tests for menopause to check the levels of hormones in your body. The various blood tests associated with menopause measure FSH, TSH, AMH, and estradiol. There are a lot of treatments you can try to relieve the symptoms and signs of menopause.