Can You Test for Menopause at Home?
Menopause is what happens to all people with ovaries, usually between the ages of 45 and 55, where the levels of hormones drops and as a result their periods stop along with other symptoms like hot flushes, mood changes and an inability to sleep properly just to name a few. We will delve more into the symptoms and signs of menopause and perimenopause later in the article.
Perimenopause is when a person begins to experience the symptoms of menopause before their period actually stops. Menopause is classed as being 12 months after your periods stop.
Some go through early menopause which is classed as being before the age of 45 and this can occur for many different reasons and the reason is sometimes even unknown.
People can go through perimenopause months or even years before their periods actually stop and it can cause all the same symptoms plus different period patterns or even irregular periods.
Menopause and perimenopause can sound like a daunting thing but the reality is that it is usually manageable once you know that you are experiencing it.
If your menopause begins before you are 45 it is considered to be early. Early menopause happens naturally to around 5% of people.
There are various reasons why a person could be experiencing early menopause. This includes:
- Ageing - the risk increases after 35.
- Family history.
- Genetic disorders.
- Autoimmune conditions.
- Premature menopause - Premature menopause is defined as naturally occurring before the age of 40, this affects about 1% of people who go through menopause. For 90% of those people though the reason why they are experiencing premature menopause goes unknown.
What are the signs of menopause and perimenopause?
There is unfortunately a plethora of different symptoms you may experience as a result of going through menopause.
Every person can have a very unique experience with the symptoms of menopause. You could end up having various symptoms or you could have none at all. Either is a possibility and unfortunately, you cannot know until it happens.
Normally you will go through perimenopause first where you can have symptoms months or sometime even years before your periods actually stop.
The first sign you might be able to see that you are beginning perimenopause is that normally your periods will stray from their usual pattern and can become irregular sometimes. Eventually, of course, you will cease having periods altogether.
As mentioned perimenopause and menopause can affect your physical and mental health.
Examples of mental health symptoms could look like the following:
- Memory problems or problems concentrating (brain fog).
- Mood changes such as anxiety, low mood, mood swings or low self-esteem.
Of course, along with these are the physical symptoms, you may experience the following:
- Inability to sleep properly - this can be caused by night sweats and can result in irritability and exhaustion in the daytime.
- Lower sex drive.
- Joint pain and muscles aching.
- Hot flushes - sudden changes of feeling hot and cold usually on your chest, neck and face which can result in dizziness.
- Headaches that are worse than what you usually experience, even migraines.
- Vaginal dryness, itching, pain or even just discomfort during sex.
- Palpitations - where your heart suddenly feels like it's beating harder and becomes more noticeable.
- Reoccurring UTIs (urinary tract infections).
These symptoms can unfortunately last for years or months if you are lucky and can develop and change as you go through menopause. Some symptoms may improve and some may get worse, this is why it is important that you can receive proper care to help you through it.
If you get help early enough it may be able to calm the severity of the impact it could have on your life.
Lifestyle changes to help menopause and perimenopause
Some lifestyle changes can help to ease some of the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause and although they may not work perfectly for everyone they are certainly worth a try.
Some of these tips are also just great tips for keeping healthy and looking after yourself too so even if they don’t help all your symptoms they should keep you feeling well in yourself.
- Maintain a healthy diet.
- Eat calcium-rich foods like yoghurt which will help to keep your bones healthy.
- Rest, try and keep a regular sleep schedule, you will feel much more settled.
- Regularly exercise. Walking, dancing and running are all great options to keep you moving.
- Discuss what you are experiencing with others going through the same thing, an empathetic ear can really make a difference to your mental health.
- Do relaxing activities like yoga or meditation.
- Make sure you talk it through with a doctor if you are considering taking any medicines or herbal supplements just to double-check.
You should not:
- Over exceed the recommended limit of alcohol.
Neither smoking nor drinking too much are good for us at any time ut when your body is going through any kind of change it can make our lives much more difficult than they need to be. Both of these things can be triggers for symptoms like hot flushes and night sweats.
Hormone replacement therapy
HRT (hormone replacement therapy can be a great choice if you are one of the 80% that struggle with symptoms of menopause or even one of the 25% who faces severe symptoms. There are, of course, like any treatment benefits and risks.
- Within just a few months symptoms such as vaginal dryness and mood changes can improve and night sweats and hot flushes are often reported to have improved in just a few weeks.
- It can help lessen the impact of most symptoms of menopause and perimenopause giving you relief.
- It can even reduce the risk of any health issues related to hormones like heart disease and osteoporosis.
The risks of HRT are honestly pretty much outweighed by the benefits and could be unique to you. This is one of the reasons that it is essential to speak to a nurse or doctor to help you make your decision.
So, how do you test for menopause and can you do it at home?
The best way to test for menopause is to test for the level of FSH in your system. This stands for follicle-stimulating hormone. This is an indicator of whether or not you are going through menopause.
An FSH test can be conducted using a blood sample or a urine sample. If you choose to go to see a medical professional they are more likely to take blood than a urine test. At-home tests however use a urine sample to test for the levels of FSH.
This test should ideally be carried out on day 3 of your menstrual cycle with the first day being the day your period begins. It has been said though that it is possible to do on days 2 and 4 instead but that day 3 is the perfect time.
This applies mostly to those who are booking in with a doctor and may be unable to get the exact day they need. With an at-home test, it is much easier to make sure that you take the test at the right time.
At-home tests usually use medical laboratory management software.
The best test for menopause is the test that suits you. If you feel that you would prefer to see a doctor that will work best for you but if you’re looking for an easy way to test for yourself, at-home test kits are amazing.
Official Rapid Tests
The Menopause Test is a rapid self-test for detecting follicle-stimulating hormone in urine identifying the onset of menopause in women.