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How Can I Tell if I'm in Menopause?

Women who experience perimenopause and/or menopause sometimes report lacking a sense of overall well-being.  How do doctors diagnose menopause? And what are the common symptoms of menopause? Click to find out.

By
Sanaz Majd, MD
Episode #172

How Is Menopause Diagnosed?

It’s important to note that most patients do not require any lab testing to determine menopause. Hormone testing in women, especially in menstruating women, are often misleading since levels tend to fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle. 

Typically, if there’s a cessation of periods for a 12 month duration after the age of 45, along with symptoms of menopause, chances are that you are menopausal now – congratulations (or maybe not, depending on how you look at it).

When Should You See Your Doctor?

If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should make an appointment with your doctor:

Excessive bleeding:  If your periods start to produce more blood in any way, you need further testing, including a possible endometrial biopsy - this is a sampling of the lining of the uterus that is performed in your doctor's office.  The reason for this test is because in rare cases, endometrial cancer can cause increased bleeding.  But perimenopause is the much more common cause than endometrial cancer, it’s just that we wouldn’t want to miss those rare instances. When I say "excessive bleeding," I mean, 

  • More frequent bleeding
  • Longer duration of bleeding
  • Heavier flow
  • Spotting in between periods

Younger than 45:  If you are below the age of 45 and you are experiencing symptoms of menopause, it’s also important to rule out other possible causes, including thyroid disorder and problems with the pituitary gland. Sometimes a blood hormone test called FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) can be done. If the levels are elevated, it can help determine if an unusually young female with a cessation of periods could actually be menopausal.  Again, an FSH is not required to make the diagnosis of menopause in most women.

Diminished quality of life:  If your perimenopause or menopause symptoms are disruptive to your daily functioning and quality of life, it may be worthwhile to pay a visit to the doctor to learn about possible treatment options. 

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Please note that all content here is strictly for informational purposes only.  This content does not substitute any medical advice, and does not replace any medical judgment or reasoning by your own personal health provider.  Please always seek a licensed physician in your area regarding all health related questions and issues.

 

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About the Author

Sanaz Majd, MD
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