Diagnosis of menopause
Your doctor can measure your hormone levels through blood testing to tell whether you are approaching menopause or in menopause. For example, one standard test measures what levels of estrogen and follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH) are present. At menopause, your level of FSH will start to increase, while estrogen will decrease.
Hormone testing is not always necessary to diagnose menopause. Often, menopause is self-diagnosed. If you go more than one year without a period, you are considered menopausal. If you have irregular periods or other common symptoms, it’s often possible to tell whether you are in perimenopause or menopause without medical testing.
Menopause is a natural process, so there is no specific treatment for it. In most cases, doctors focus on relieving symptoms if they become severe enough to affect your quality of life.
If you experience premature or early menopause, you may be at higher risk for some conditions such as osteoporosis (weak bones) and heart attack. In these cases, your doctor may recommend medication.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is very effective at easing the symptoms of menopause, but it isn’t right for every woman. Whether HRT is right for you depends on your personal and family medical history.
Your doctor may also recommend other symptom management strategies, including:
- Dressing in layers, using small fans, and sipping cold drinks during hot flashes
- Practicing relaxation techniques and stress management to combat anxiety and mood changes
- Using medications to ease symptoms, such as antidepressant medications to help with mood swings
- Using a fan at night to keep your room cool, and having an ice pack handy for night sweats
- Establishing a nighttime routine and sleep schedule
- Using vaginal lubricants and moisturizers to ease vaginal dryness
- Getting regular sexual stimulation to help maintain vaginal health and blood flow
- Finding out your bone density status and working with your doctor to maintain bone health
- Exercising regularly
- Eating healthfully and maintaining a weight that’s right for you
Our doctors provide personalized menopause care with respect for each patient’s physical, mental, and spiritual needs. If you have any questions about your symptoms or would like to meet with one of our gynecologists, Find a Doctor today.
Dignity Health provides whole-person care for menopause symptoms.
When to see a doctor for menopause symptoms
Menopause is a natural part of life that does not always require medical intervention. However, many of the side effects, such as mood swings, hot flashes, and osteoporosis, can be treated by your doctor.
As you age, your doctor may also recommend additional screening tests based on your risk for certain conditions, such as ovarian cancer, breast cancer, and thyroid diseases. You should continue with any treatment or prevention methods during and after menopause.
If you aren’t sure whether you are experiencing menopause, or you are under 40 and having menopause-like symptoms, consult with your doctor. He or she can rule out other possible causes of your symptoms, such as pregnancy, kidney disease, thyroid issues, and ovarian failure.
If you are postmenopausal and notice vaginal bleeding, seek immediate medical care.
The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.