Menopause Test: Which One Is Best For You?

by Laura Ramirez on March 17, 2011

Getting a menopause test is a must for any woman entering middle age (late forties to early fifties). One can argue that the onset of common menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, nightly sweats, etc., are enough to determine that menopause has arrived. However, these symptoms can mask potential life-threatening illnesses such as breast, endometrial, or ovarian cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, and others.

To be sure and on the safe side, it’s best to get a diagnostic menopause test. There are several kinds: the main ones are for testing hormone levels, while others are also important to examine the risks of certain diseases that can go with the onset of menopause.

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) Test. This test requires a sample of your blood in order to determine the amount of follicle stimulating hormones (FSH) produced by the pituitary gland. Follicle stimulating hormones change in volume throughout your menstrual cycle…the highest being at the time of ovulation, or when your body is ready to release an egg cell.

The FSH method is not just a menopause test, though. It’s also commonly used to detect infertility by determining at the amounts of luteinizing hormones, estrogen, and progesterone in a woman’s body; and to test if the reproductive organs are functioning properly. Other uses of the FSH test include diagnosing certain pituitary gland dysfunctions, causes of early or delayed puberty, menstrual problems, and egg cell reserves.

If you want to try the follicle stimulating hormone method as a menopause test, be ready to get your blood drawn. There are hardly any risks or complications during a blood test, except in cases of allergic reaction, bruising, or continuous bleeding for those with bleeding disorders. If you have any of these conditions, tell your doctor before getting a blood sample done.

You also have to know when your last menstrual period was (your menstrual cycle can affect results). In menstruating women, the accepted FSH value during the follicular phase is 2-15 international units per liter. Higher FSH values (around 14-52 IU/L) mean a woman has entered menopause. However, they can also indicate ovarian failure, being underweight, overly stressed, or a disorder of the pituitary gland. You may have to undergo re-testing to make sure.

Hormone Saliva Test. Progesterone levels can be determined using the hormone saliva test. If you still have monthly periods but suspect that you’re entering menopause, then this is a good menopause test for you to try. You can either go to a doctor or purchase a hormone saliva test kit. The best time for it is on the 21st day of your menstrual cycle (so you have to keep track for a more accurate result). This is the time of ovulation, and when you’re producing the highest levels of progesterone.

A hormone saliva menopause test may not be quite as accurate as a follicle stimulating hormone test when it comes to determining hormone levels. But a home text kit can help you learn the results without going to the doctor. You will have to send the samples to a laboratory but this is part of the kit and they will send you a report that is easy to read. Estrogen levels lower than 30 indicate the onset of menopause.

If you are experiencing symptoms, an effective way to relieve them without side effects is to take a natural menopause remedy with ingredients like Pasque Flower and black cohosh and avoid HRT (hormone replacement therapy) completely. HRT has been linked to breast and uterine cancers.

Pelvic Test. When you get the results of your menopause test (either from FSH or hormone saliva method) and you want to be sure that menopause isn’t just the reason for having high FSH values or low estrogen levels, it’s recommended that you go through a pelvic exam.

Menopausal women should have regular pelvic exams because of the increased risk of ovarian cancer and the presence of tumors and cysts in the uterus. This is part of a clinical test commonly referred to as the Pap smear, which takes cell samples to screen for cervical, uterine, and endometrial cancer, as well as other diseases of the pelvic area.

Bone Mineral Density Test. Menopausal women are encouraged to get a densitometry, or a bone mineral density test. This is important for detecting osteoporosis, which is directly linked to lowered estrogen levels due to menopause. While a densitometry is strictly not a menopause test as far as determining the onset of menopause is concerned, it’s still vital to keep your bones as healthy as they can be during this stage.

Regular bone testing is encouraged even before menopause. It is usually your lower back and hips that get tested at a hospital during a bone mineral density test. A telling symptom of osteoporosis is when you notice a decrease in your height…but it’s best not to wait for this extreme phenomenon to occur before you consult a doctor.

Copyright © 2011 by Laura Ramirez. All rights reserved.

Related Resources:

Menopause and Natural Hormones: Charting Your Course Through Your Change of Life

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