Did you know over 1 million women in the US alone start menopause each year? Menopause can cause a lot of symptoms that often leave women with questions.
The good news is there are menopause tests available that can let you know exactly where you stand. There is no reason to go through menopause in the dark.
Nowadays, we have the tools and technology to take our health into our own hands. So keep reading this guide to learn all about menopause and the proven benefits of menopause tests.
What is Menopause?
Menopause is the time in your life that signifies the end of your menstrual cycles. Menopause is a biological process between 40 and 50, with an average age of 51 in the US.
Women also experience a phase called perimenopause, which is when your body begins to transition towards menopause. Perimenopause can start at different ages but typically occurs when you're in your 40s.
Your estrogen and hormone levels start dropping, which brings on the symptoms of menopause like hot flashes and mood changes. Doctors usually officially diagnose menopause after 12 consecutive months without a period.
Causes and Risk Factors for Menopause
Typically women enter menopause in their 40s and 50s, but certain risk factors can interrupt the normal flow of a woman's reproductive system. When this happens, menopause can occur before 40, referred to as premature ovarian failure.
Risk factors include previous pelvic surgery and removal of both ovaries. Other risks include chemotherapy and radiation, chromosomal defects, and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
Signs and Symptoms of Menopause
In the years that lead up towards menopause, you'll start to experience different signs and symptoms, including:
- Hot flashes
- Irregular and missed periods
- Night sweats and chills
- Trouble sleeping
- Changes in mood
- Slower metabolism
- Thinning of hair
- Breast changes like loss of fullness
Remember, changes in menstruation vary, and most of the time, you'll experience irregular periods before they stop altogether. You'll also notice shorter menstrual cycles that occur closer together.
Complications of Menopause
After menopause, you no longer have the protection of estrogen and other reproductive hormones. This can increase your risk for conditions like:
Your risk for heart disease goes up when your estrogen levels decline. And high blood pressure and cholesterol levels during menopause increase this risk even further.
Your risk for osteoporosis goes up after menopause. During your first few years of menopause, your body is adjusting to the hormonal changes, and you can lose bone density at a faster rate during this time.
After menopause, your vagina and urethra lose their elasticity, causing you sometimes to experience a strong urge to urinate or a leakage of urine.
You'll also notice a decreased desire for sexual activity. Menopause can cause vaginal dryness and discomfort during sexual intercourse.
Menopause also causes changes in your metabolism, causing you to gain weight easier than you did before.
Diagnosis of Menopause
Most of the time, your signs and symptoms like no period for 12 consecutive months are enough to tell you that menopause is starting.
But often, symptoms like irregular periods can be due to other medical causes, so your doctor often recommends specific blood tests to check your hormone levels.
Treatment of Menopause
Menopause doesn't require any specific medical treatment but instead, treatments focus on symptom relief and managing chronic conditions as you age.
One of the most effective treatments for menopause is estrogen therapy. Doctors often prescribe a low dose of estrogen for a short time. If you still have your uterus and ovaries, you'll often be prescribed progestin too. Short-term use of hormone therapy helps prevent bone loss and heart disease.
Vaginal estrogen is also an option and can be administered directly into your vagina via a vaginal cream or ring. Vaginal estrogen releases only a small amount of estrogen that gets absorbs by your vaginal tissues. You'll get relief from vaginal dryness and pain with sexual intercourse.
Some women also need a low dose of antidepressants for a time. Certain medications like serotonin reuptake inhibitors can decrease hot flashes and improve mood.
Lab Tests for Menopause
Testing for menopause and during menopause is a great way to diagnose menopause and to monitor the balance of your hormones and biomarkers.
You can find comprehensive lab tests for menopause at Ulta Lab Tests. Standard menopause lab tests include:
Follicle stimulating hormone testing (FSH) is often measured to confirm menopause. Typically in menopause, your FSH will consistently remain elevated.
A luteinizing hormone test (LH) measures how much of this hormone is in your blood. LH is involved with your ovulation, menstruation, and more. When you start menopause, your LH levels will rise.
Your total estrogen level is also measured. Estrogen is responsible for the development of female sex organs and regulating your menstrual cycles. Your total estrogen levels decrease once menopause begins.
Anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) measures your ovarian reserve and predicts an average time when menopause will begin.
Other blood tests helpful for menopause testing include:
Frequently Asked Questions
Many women have the most questions about the hot flashes that occur in menopause. Although the exact cause isn't completely understood, hot flashes are thought to occur due to changes in your brain and hypothalamus.
If your hypothalamus senses you're too warm, it will try to cool you down by making you sweat. The good news is most hot flashes diminish after six months, though some women can have them for longer.
And remember, just because you've entered into menopause doesn't mean you don't need annual pap tests and mammograms. After menopause, these screenings become more crucial than ever.
Choose Ulta Lab Tests for all your menopause tests and needs. Our lab tests provide you with accurate results which allow you to take control of your health.
Our affordable pricing includes a doctor's order, and you don't need a referral or insurance either.
Once you order your menopause lab tests, you'll have secure and confidential results within 24 to 48 hours, depending on the test.
Take charge of your health by ordering your tests from Ulta Lab Tests.