Menopause and Hormone Tests – What You Need to Know
Hormone tests to determine if you are in perimenopause or have reached menopause are trending up, but do they really work?
What is perimenopause, and when does it start?
Perimenopause typically begins in your early 40’s, but for some women, it can start in their 30’s. Perimenopause means “around menopause” and is also referred to as the menopause transition because you are transitioning from your reproductive years to your non-reproductive years. The official criteria for classifying women as perimenopausal is when menstrual cycle irregularity begins. However, we are learning that perimenopause starts much earlier with symptoms that may include sleep disturbance, mood issues, low libido, and hot flashes, to name a few.
Hormone Testing During Perimenopause
Taking a test during perimenopause is not considered helpful as your hormone levels fluctuate through the menstrual cycle. However, in certain instances, for example, to evaluate fertility or when a woman’s period stops at an early age, these tests can be useful to help a clinician make a diagnosis.
- Saliva Testing: Experts do not consider saliva hormone tests to be accurate at all and advise saving your money.
- Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) Testing: These tests are not useful during perimenopause due to the changing levels of hormones. Moreover, if a woman is on certain hormone therapy, like birth control, FSH tests are invalid. FSH urine tests available over-the-counter are also not considered useful.
One way to confirm you are in perimenopause is to talk to a menopause specialist. If your clinician is not trained in menopausal care or dismisses your symptoms, search for a new clinician. The North American Menopause Society has a handy search tool on its website to help women locate a certified menopause practitioner, or you can download the Midday app and request an appointment with a Mayo Clinic menopause specialist. Midday also has a science-backed feature that tracks your progression through the stages of menopause to support you in knowing where you’re at and what to expect next.
What is menopause, and how do I know I am menopausal?
Most women are between 45 and 55 years of age when they reach menopause, and the average age women reach menopause in the U.S. is 51. When you’ve gone 12 consecutive months without a period that’s not due to another cause, such as birth control or cancer treatment, you are officially menopausal. The 12 consecutive month rule is important. If you’ve gone 11 months without a period and then have a period, the 12-month clock starts over.
Hormone Testing At Menopause
The 12 consecutive months without a period rule is admittedly a rudimentary method to establish that a woman has transitioned to a non-reproductive stage, but it’s still considered the best measure, and testing is not generally warranted.
Bottomline, according to the experts, save your money, don’t be lured in by advertising, and speak with a menopause expert if you have any questions about symptoms or any other changes you are experiencing. Menopause is a natural life stage that all women will go through. However, more and better resources are becoming available to help women navigate the transition with knowledge and confidence.
For expert support on your menopause journey, download Midday, the leading science-backed app for menopause and healthy aging. Midday includes a science-backed algorithm that assesses and tracks your menopause progression from premenopause through postmenopause.
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