How is the Peri - Menopause Diagnosed?

menopause perimenopause what is menopause Mar 01, 2022

How is the Peri - Menopause Diagnosed and what is Menopause?

The menopause is a naturally occurring event, we all know it’s coming over the hill, but somehow we’re never ready for it. It just happens to other women, right?

We may see our friends go through the menopause, but when it comes to our ‘turn’ somehow it feels a bit different. Most women feel like they need to talk to their GP and get a formal diagnosis, assuming that this is done by a blood test. This is not usually the case here in the UK. 

Formal menopause diagnosis

In some circumstances, for instance, if you are under 45 or perhaps the GP wants to rule out other issues such as thyroid dysfunction, a blood test will be done, but it is important to understand why most  GP’s won’t always do a blood test. 

The reason is that as your hormones are fluctuating up and down, a blood test will only give you a result for that particular hour on that particular day. 

Over the counter menopause tests are unreliable

It is possible to buy ‘Menopause testing kits’ from some pharmacies or online. These kits test your urine sample for levels of Follicle Stimulating Hormone - otherwise known as FSH.

The trouble is, FSH is not a reliable indicator of where you are in your menopause journey - some ladies with dreadful symptoms may have pre-menopausal levels, others who have no symptoms at all will show an FSH in the menopausal range.

If you aren’t bothered by the changes you notice - you don’t need to talk to anyone, menopause is not a disease, it’s a natural process - a bit like puberty in reverse!

If your symptoms aren’t bothering you, there is no need to visit your GP

The best way to understand a bit more about your menopause is to make a note of everything that you have concerns about and then speak to your GP. Doctors call it taking a ‘history’, that will enable her or him to get a clear picture of whether or not you might be peri-menopausal, the transition phase which can last 5-10 years before the menopause. 

What the GP needs to know

In order to diagnose the peri-menopause, the GP will ask a series of questions:

·  When did you last have a period

·  Are you on any form of contraception

·  Are you noticing that you are having night sweats, anxiety, or brain fog.

·  What is your mood like

·  Have you lost your libido 

Keep a journal of your symptoms

So, next time you notice one of these symptoms, jot it down, keep a note of when you are having your periods, how you are feeling, and when you visit the GP, if you do, it will help you to have a clearer picture. 

However, if you are finding the symptoms of the menopause a real struggle to cope with, a good GP will listen to you and advise you about lifestyle changes that will help, and also about hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and its protective benefits for some women.

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