Most likely, your primary care doctor or gynecologist will help you determine if you’re beginning menopause. To prepare, you should track symptoms you’re experiencing, including how many times a day or week they occur and their severity. Also, make a list of medications and supplements you are currently taking.
Menopause is likely if you haven’t had a period in six months or longer, and is clinically confirmed once you’ve gone 12 full months without a period. In most cases, menopause can be self-diagnosed in consultation with a doctor or gynecologist. Vaginal pH levels can also help confirm menopause: during reproductive years, vaginal pH is about 4.5; during menopause, pH rises to about 6. Although rarely needed, a blood test to check your levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) can also confirm menopause. During menopause, FSH levels increase significantly.
If you are having menopausal symptoms and you or your doctor does not believe that you’ve begun menopause, your doctor may order tests to determine the presence of other health problems such as ovarian failure or thyroid conditions. These may include a blood test to check your levels of FSH and estrogen, a thyroid function test, a lipid profile, and tests for liver and kidney function.
Your doctor may ask you about the date of your last period as well as how often you experience bothersome symptoms. Usually the symptoms women experience are enough to diagnose menopause.
Follicle-Stimulating Hormone Test
A physician may decide to do a blood test to check your levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estrogen. During menopause, your FSH levels increase, and estrogen levels decrease. FSH is a hormone released by the anterior pituitary gland. During the first half of your menstrual cycle, this hormone stimulates maturation of eggs as well as a hormone called estradiol. Estradiol is a form of estrogen that is responsible for (among other things) the growth of the uterus, Fallopian tubes, and vagina.
If you are of childbearing age, you might need to be tested during certain days of your menstrual cycle. In addition to confirming menopause, this test is also performed to test signs of certain reproductive pituitary disorders. Your doctor might order an additional blood test to check your thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) because hypothyroidism can cause symptoms that are similar to menopause.