What Is the Best Test for Menopause?
Every person who is born with ovaries will at some point in their life inevitably go through menopause, this usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55. Not all of these people have symptoms however most (80%) do with 25% experiencing severe symptoms which adversely affect them in their day-to-day life.
This makes it extremely important that we can properly identify menopause and perimenopause so that they can be properly treated and so that those who need it can get the help that they need. People should not just be expected to deal with genuinely debilitating symptoms that cause them so many problems both physically and mentally.
So many different changes happen to your body during perimenopause and menopause that cause these symptoms. You will have lower oestrogen and testosterone levels and these hormones have receptors all over your body in every cell. This means that this change in hormone levels could affect any and all parts of the body. The lower levels of hormones are what causes your periods to stop.
Sometimes menopause begins earlier for certain people. This can happen naturally or could be for other reasons such as;
- An oophorectomy (a surgery to remove the ovaries).
- A hysterectomy (a surgery to remove the uterus).
- Cancer treatments like chemotherapy.
Sometimes the reason is even unknown but there are other reasons as well that we will get into more detail on later in this article.
Perimenopause means around menopause and is the terminology used to describe when a person has symptoms of menopause before their period has stopped. Menopause is described as when you have not had a period for 12 months.
The symptoms for both are of course very similar. They can cause symptoms such as;
- Mood swings.
- Brain fog.
- Hot flushes.
- Irregular periods.
This unfortunately is just to name a few of the more common ones, there are many more you may experience. These and many of the other symptoms of menopause and perimenopause can become quite debilitating sometimes affecting a person's personal life and their work.
There are treatments for menopause that can have an amazing effect on your menopause symptoms and give you a better quality of life.
The first step to this process, however, is to verify if you are going through menopause.
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.
So, what is the best test for menopause?
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.
Treatments for menopause
There of course many different ways that menopause and perimenopause can be treated. This can be anything from lifestyle changes to prescribed help from your doctor.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
Hormone replacement therapy is perhaps one of the more common treatments that is mentioned when discussing menopause. This is because it is widely known to be an effective and safe treatment and any risks will be properly discussed with you by your GP if and when it is prescribed.
Hormone replacement therapy as the name suggests works by using oestrogen to replace the body's low levels as you are going through menopause.
There are various types of HRT and they can come in different doses. Your doctor should help you to figure out what is the right type and dose for you. With the correct dose and type of hormone replacement therapy, your symptoms will usually improve.
HRT can come in many forms and choosing the right way will help you through the process.
Oestrogen can be prescribed as:
- Patches for your skin.
- A spray or gel that is applied to the skin.
A lot of people also need to take progesterone as it will protect the lining of the womb from the effects of oestrogen. Just like the combined pill (which contains oestrogen and progesterone), this is known as combined hormone replacement therapy.
Progesterone can be given as any of the following:
- Patches for your skin. These can be given as combined patches with the oestrogen.
- IUS (an intrauterine system also known as a coil).
If you also experience a low sex drive as a result of your menopause or perimenopause you may also be given testosterone.
Any and all of these decisions should be made as a fully informed choice with your doctor so that you can get the best possible outcome.
How can I test for menopause?
The Menopause Test is a rapid self-test for detecting follicle-stimulating hormone in urine identifying the onset of menopause in women.