How Is Menopause Diagnosed?
Menopause is a natural biological process when a woman’s ovaries stop producing eggs, when the FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) blood level is consistently at 30 mIU/mL or more and if the said woman has not had a menses for a year. ALSO vasomotor symptoms and sustained low levels of oestrogen and progesterone hormones are also clear indiction of menopause.
Some of the vasomotor symptoms are… hot flashes, irregular sleep patterns, weight fluctuations, mood changes, vaginal dryness, headache and memory problems.
The median age of a woman reaching menopause is 51 years, and in most women reach menses between 40 and 55 years of age. In certain cases, women have also been known to reach menopause much earlier, the factors being be natural, medically induced, smokers or women suffering from some chronic illness.
The Menopause transition, perimenopause, can occur between upto 8 years before menopause, consisting of fluctuating ovarian function and the same fluctuations can continue in postmenopause, upto up to 1 year after the final menses.
There is no single blood test which can confirm menopause or menopausal transition. The blood test can only substantiate what the Doctor has clinically diagnosed and also to rule out other conditions that mimic symptoms of menopause.
Some of the blood tests recommended to test menopause are…
1/4. Estrogen (Estradiol) Test
1. Estradiol test is done to measure ovarian production of oestrogen.
2. Estradiol is a form of oestrogen which is produced by the ovaries. This form of oestrogen circulates in the body when the woman is approaching menopause.
3. During menopause, levels of oestrogen drip naturally which mean there shall be low estradiol levels. Hence, consistent low estradiol levels shall be an indicator of menopause.
2/4. Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) Test
1. FSH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland which goes to the ovaries to stimulate follicle production finally resulting in the release of an egg during ovulation.
2. Levels of this hormone increases as the ovaries start producing reduced oestrogen hence, an increased level of FSH can indicate the menopausal phase.
3/4. Thyroid function tests
1. An underperforming thyroid can closely resemble menopause. Hence, thyroid function tests are generally recommended to evaluate the functioning of thyroid gland.
2. In case levels of thyroid hormones are low then, it can conclude thyroid dysfunction to be the cause of the symptoms.
4/4. Anti-mullerian hormone (AMH)
This hormone is released by the ovarian follicles. This test is done to predict the onset of menopause. AMH test measures the number of follicles in a woman.