The Menopause Tests You Should Be Aware Of

Menopause tests are very important for all women as you start to notice some menopause symptoms.

Menopause is the transition through a midlife to the rest of our life. The signs and symptoms of menopause are temporary, but what we do during this transition can affect our health for the rest of our life.

How we handle this transition in our lives may affect our risk of diseases such as breast cancer, endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and heart disease.

So it is important to have your health care practitioner perform some menopause tests when you start to experience the signs and symptoms of menopause.

There are many symptoms of menopause, including:

  • Irregular periods and/or heavy periods
  • Hot flashes and night sweats
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Depression
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Urinary incontinence and/or recurrent urinary infections
  • Insomnia
  • Memory problems

What Are Some Menopause Tests?

Here –¬†http://www.healthline.com/health/menopause/tests-diagnosis

Menopause tests: Follicle-Stimulating Hormone Test or FSH Test

As we know, menopause occurs when our ovaries stop producing sufficient estrogen and progesterone. At this point ovulation can no longer occur and we are not able to conceive.

The substance called Follicle-Stimulating Hormone or FSH is secreted from the anterior pituitary gland. FSH stimulates the production of ovarian follicles (eggs) and estradiol during the first half of our menstrual cycle.

FSH is always present in the body, but our pituitary gland produces more of this hormone when our ovaries slow down the production of eggs.

High levels of FSH are associated with low estrogen levels; thus a positive FSH level test can help a woman identify that her menstrual period changes indicate menopause.

The FSH test is a blood test done by your doctor to check the level of FSH. This is a qualitative test which tells you whether or not you have elevated FSH levels, not if you definitely are in peri menopause or menopause.

Because the FSH test is not the definitive test telling you that you are menopausal, it is a good idea to have your doctor do blood tests to check your levels of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and other hormones.

Menopause tests: Estradiol Test

The Estradiol test measures the amount of estradiol in the blood. Estradiol, the most important estrogen in the body, is a steroid hormone that is mainly synthesized and secreted from the placenta, ovarian follicle and adrenal cortex. It is responsible for the growth of the uterus, fallopian tubes and vagina.

It also promotes breast development, maturation of our external genitalia, deposition of body fat and termination of linear growth. Estradiol stimulates the proliferation of the endometrium in the first half of our menstrual cycle.

The Estradiol test is used to evaluate ovarian, placental or adrenal function particularly when certain types of ovarian tumor are suspected.

Menopause tests: Luteinizing Hormone Test or LH Blood Test

The LH Blood Test measures the amount of luteinizing hormone. LH is a protein hormone secreted by the anterior pituitary gland. An LH surge at mid-cycle causes ovulation and then for the next week or so the LH maintains the corpus luteum which synthesizes progesterone.

This test is performed when a disorder associated with abnormal levels of LH is suspected.

Menopause tests: PAP Smear

A PAP Smear is a microscopic examination of cells scraped from the cervix. This is done to indicate changes in the vaginal lining caused by changes in estrogen levels. This test can also detect cancerous or pre-cancerous conditions of the cervix.

Menopause tests: Pelvic Exam

The pelvic exam is done to check for ovarian and uterine tumors, cysts and cancer. There are two tests that detect, or at least verify ovarian cancer. They are CA 125, a blood test, and a pelvic ultrasound, which can help distinguish between cysts and tumors.

Menopause tests: Bone Density Test

The Bone Density Test measures for bone loss and osteoporosis associated with menopause. The standard test is called the DEXA or dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scan. This test calculates your bone mineral density and compares it to the mean value for healthy young women.

The World Health Organization defines osteoporosis as more than 2.5 standard deviations below this average. The DEXA scan is usually done before a doctor prescribes medications for osteoporosis to rebuild bone mineral density.

Menopause tests: Mammogram

The Mammogram is the test done to check for breast cancer. It is suggested that this test be done every couple of years for women over 40.

Menopause tests: Breast Self-Exam

The Breast Self-Exam is a test you can do for yourself for early detection of breast abnormalities and breast cancer. It is best to do this test at the same time each month and examine your breasts to learn what is normal for you, so you can notice any changes that may concern you.

Your doctor can give you pamphlets that will assist you in doing this test.

Menopause tests: Heart Risk Testing

Post menopausal women may be at risk for high blood pressure and/or heart disease. So it is a good advice to have your doctor check your total cholesterol and LDL and HDL levels with simple blood tests.

These tests are particularly important for women who have risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as: a family history of heart disease, being overweight, a sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes.

Some of the latest research now documents that a significant contributing factor to heart disease is not clogged arteries, but what actually causes the arteries to become clogged, which is a high level of an amino acid in the blood called homocysteine.

Homocysteine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in our bodies as it processes protein, but when there is too much homocysteine in the blood arteries are damaged and plaque forms.

The reason for these elevated levels of homocysteine is a deficiency of B Vitamins in our diet and the only way to bring your homocysteine back into balance is by getting enough of a combination of Vitamin B-12, Vitamin B-6 and Folic Acid.

Other factors that contribute an increase of homocysteine in our blood are: our genetic background, hormonal changes in menopause, aging, smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, certain drugs and too little exercise.

Have your doctor test the homocysteine level in your blood, and he will be able to tell you what your risk level is.

I can suggest a product that will help you correct a B Vitamin deficiency contributing to an elevated level of homocysteine.

Nipple Tenderness And Menopause

Nipple tenderness and menopause will be discussed in a moment, but first let’s celebrate the female breast. Our breasts are a vital part of our sexuality. We are the only female mammals who develop full breasts long before they are needed to nurse our offspring.

Our breasts develop in distinct stages throughout our life: our breasts start developing before birth, continue to develop again at puberty and then during our childbearing years.

Our breasts go through cyclical changes during every menstrual cycle and more changes when we reach menopause. So our breasts develop and change as we age.

There are three phases of breast development:

  • Lubule development which takes place between the ages of 10 and 25
  • Glandular development which is influenced by menstrual hormones and happens between ages 13 and 45
  • Involution or shrinkage of the milk ducts which happens from age 35 on

Nipple tenderness and menopause Question 1: What Happens To Our Breasts During Menstruation?

There are cyclical changes in our breasts every month during menstruation because of the fluctuations in hormones that occur during the normal menstrual cycle.

Estrogen is produced by the ovaries in the first half of the menstrual cycle and this stimulates the growth of milk ducts in the breasts… just to be ready in case of pregnancy. The increased level of estrogen leads to ovulation halfway through the menstrual cycle.

Then the hormone progesterone takes over in the second half of the menstrual cycle to stimulate the formation of the milk glands… again, we have to be ready every month… you never know when that baby may be on its way!

But it is these hormones that are responsible for the cyclical changes in our breasts, which produce breast swelling, pain, tenderness and nipple tenderness that we experience just before menstruation.

Nipple tenderness and menopause Question 2: What Happens To Our Breasts During Menopause?

Nipple tenderness and menopause Fact: When we reach our late 40’s and 50’s, we are entering menopause or menopause is well under way. As we have already discussed, the levels of estrogen and progesterone are in flux: estrogen levels are dramatically decreasing.

With this reduction in the stimulation by estrogen to all tissues of the body, including our breast tissue, there is a reduction in the glandular tissue of the breasts. Without estrogen the connective tissue of the breast becomes dehydrated and less elastic and the breast tissue, which before was prepared to make milk, now shrinks and loses shape.

This can lead to the “sagging” of the breasts – Another nipple tenderness and menopause Fact:.

However, during sexual arousal, your breasts will swell, perhaps not quite as they used to, and your nipples become tender and sensitized and firm. The coloured circular area around the nipple swells during sexual arousal.

If you go on hormone replacement therapy for your menopause symptoms you may experience the same breast symptoms you had during menstruation: swelling, pain, tenderness and nipple tenderness.

After starting to take hormone replacement therapy nipple tenderness can occur and last for three or four months. After this period the tenderness will usually decrease and not be a problem.

Just as a note this problem with pre-menstrual breast symptoms would not be the case if you were taking a natural alternative hormone replacement product.

Nipple tenderness and menopause Question 3: What Causes Nipple Tenderness In Menopause?

Nipple tenderness and menopause Fact: Our bodies produce estrogen, progesterone and testosterone in a delicate balance until we stop ovulating. When ovulation stops the ovaries stop producing progesterone and this throws our body out of balance.

This progesterone deficiency can cause such menopausal symptoms as sleep disturbance, mood swings and weight gain (from diminished thyroid function).

So now that there is an excessive amount of estrogen with not enough progesterone to balance it out, this causes vaginal dryness and hot flashes and affects our bone and heart health. The reduction of testosterone accounts for the loss of libido.

But it is this excess estrogen that causes breast and nipple tenderness, PMS, cramps and irregular menstrual cycles during peri menopause. It can also cause over stimulation of the breast glandular tissue and uterus causing breast cancers and fibroid tumors in the uterus.

Nipple tenderness and menopause Fact: Nipple tenderness during menopause can be caused by inadequate lubricant secretion by the sebaceous glands of the areola region of the breast. Nipple tenderness can also be caused by bacterial or fungal infection of the nipple.

Nipple Tenderness & Menopause Signs And Symptoms

These are some of the symptoms of nipple tenderness:

  • Nipple tenderness and menopause – Redness, tenderness and/or cracking of the skin surface of the nipple
  • Nipple tenderness and menopause – Nipple discharge
  • Nipple tenderness and menopause – Breast tenderness

If the symptoms of nipple tenderness in menopause become more severe then you may be dealing with a more serious condition, such as breast cancer.

These are the signs to watch for that may indicate breast cancer:

  • Any new lump or hard knot found in the breast or armpit
  • Any lump or thickening that does not shrink or lessen after menstruation
  • A thickening or swelling of the breast
  • Any dimpling, puckering or indentation in the breast
  • Dimpling, skin irritation or other change in the breast skin or nipple
  • Redness or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin
  • Nipple discharge that is bloody, clear and sticky, dark or occurs without squeezing the nipple
  • Nipple tenderness or pain that persists
  • Nipple retraction; that is, the nipple turns or draws inward or points in a new direction

Nipple tenderness and menopause Fact: Any breast changes or nipple tenderness that concerns you should be cause for you to consult with your physician.

Sexual Arousal After Menopause

Sexual arousal after menopause is a topic rife with misconceptions. The most common assumption concerning sexual arousal after menopause is that sexual desire, sexual activity and sexual arousal inevitably decrease at menopause.

Source –¬†https://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/sexual-problems-at-midlife/decreased-arousal

This may be true for some women, but it is certainly not true for all women. Sexuality at menopause has a lot to do first and foremost with what we believe about our own sexuality up to the point of going through menopause.

Can you remember what it felt like to fall in love for the first time? Do you remember how you had an almost overwhelming energy filling you with exhilaration, benevolence, vigour and an insatiable sexual desire.

Well, the ability to feel all these feelings did not disappear just because you are in menopause or you are post menopause.

In other words, your life force, your vital energy source, has not disappeared and the health and vitality of your sexuality is inexorably linked to your connection with this energy source and the health and vitality in your life.

The reality is that as we get older and go through the natural changes of aging, which include going through menopause, sexual arousal after menopause also changes.

For some women sexual arousal after menopause means that their sexual desire diminishes, and for other women sexual arousal after menopause means their sexual desire increases.

And there are many factors in a woman’s life at the time of menopause that contribute to this but we cannot just blame menopause on its own.

Sexual Changes And Menopause

The hormone changes associated with menopause do have some effect on a woman’s physical response and sexual arousal, libido. During peri menopause a woman’s libido may seem to go underground for awhile.

But this diminished sex drive does not need to be the permanent experience after menopause, because it can and will re-emerge, and it can even re-emerge in an experience of heightened sexual desire and activity after menopause.

During peri menopause you may experience some or most of the following changes in sexual arousal:

  • Sexual arousal after menopause can result in – Increased sexual desire
  • Sexual arousal after menopause can result in – Decreased sexual desire
  • Vaginal dryness and loss of vaginal elasticity-less lubrication
  • Pain or burning with intercourse
  • Increased clitoral sensitivity
  • Decreased clitoral sensitivity
  • Stronger orgasms and sexual awakening
  • Fewer orgasms and decreased depth of orgasm
  • Slower sexual arousal

In post menopause you may experience some of the following changes in sexual arousal:

  • Vaginal wetness and lubrication in sexual arousal can take 1 to 3 minutes, compared to 10 to 30 seconds for younger women
  • The clitoris, however, can become stimulated and erect in women even in our 70’s
  • The vaginal walls do thin and decrease in length, width and their ability to expand during sexual arousal and climax
  • The uterus becomes smaller as a result of less estrogen during menopause
  • The uterus does not enlarge as much during sexual arousal during orgasm

For some women sexual arousal after menopause can mean that if there are sexual disorders or dysfunctions present, they may become more evident during menopause. These can include:

  • Low sexual desire or lack of sex drive
  • Sexual arousal disorder-this is where your desire for sex might be intact, but you are unable to become aroused or maintain arousal during sexual activity
  • Orgasmic disorder-this is where you have persistent difficulty in achieving orgasm after sufficient sexual arousal and stimulation
  • Sexual pain disorder-this is where you have pain with sexual stimulation and intercourse

These symptoms of sexual dysfunction can be caused by:

  • Physical problems such as cystitis or vaginitis
  • Health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease
  • Taking medications such as anti-depressants or tranquilizers
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • The use of alcohol, drugs or cigarette smoking

Sexual Arousal After Menopause

If you believe that menopause marks the end of your sexual life then that is exactly what will happen for you. However, if you believe that menopause is the beginning of the vital second half of your life then you will stay strong and attractive and sexual through menopause.

Even though it may take a longer time for your sexual responsiveness and arousal, you can have normal and even deeper orgasms, especially if you stay sexually active.

Women five to ten years after menopause who do not have sex and do not masturbate eventually have trouble with being adequately lubricated if they have intercourse.

Do whatever it takes to stay sexually aroused: read love stories, watch love affairs on TV or movies, fantasize about sex. Have some erotic stimulation in your life to keep your sexual arousal alive and well.

Menopause and Diabetes

Menopause and diabetes will be discussed on this page, after learning exactly what diabetes is.

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterized by our body’s decreased ability or complete inability to utilize carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are normally broken down within the body in the form of glucose, our body’s main energy source.

Insulin is the protein hormone created in the beta cells of the pancreas, and it is secreted into the blood stream in response to high levels of glucose in the blood. Insulin is essential for transporting the glucose in the blood across the cell membranes where it is converted into energy.

mature woman having hot flash

Our body cannot absorb glucose directly into its cells, so insulin must be present in order for glucose to get into our cells and be put to work.

However, for someone with diabetes there is an insufficient production of insulin and therefore the glucose is prevented from getting to the cells and being converted to energy.

Instead the glucose accumulates in the bloodstream. When this happens the result is symptoms ranging from mental confusion to coma. Some of the major symptoms of diabetes are: excessive thirst, frequent urination, increased appetite and loss of weight.

Types Of Diabetes

There are two major types of diabetes:

Type I Diabetes is also called insulin dependent diabetes. This is sometimes referred to as juvenile diabetes because it most often begins in childhood, but it can also occur in adults.

Because the body does not manufacture insulin, people with Type I Diabetes must take insulin shots to live. Less than ten percent of people who have diabetes have Type I.

Type II Diabetes is also called adult-onset-diabetes. In this case the body may make insulin, but either it makes too little insulin or the body cannot use what insulin it makes. In other words, the body makes insulin but it cannot convert the glucose in the blood so it can be utilized by the cells of the body.

This is called insulin resistance where the cells of our body become less and less responsive to our own insulin and so not enough glucose is allowed to enter our cells. Type II

Diabetes occurs most commonly in people over age forty.

Menopause And Diabetes

As women when we enter our 40’s we may begin experiencing symptoms of peri menopause as our estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate and begin decreasing.

These symptoms include: fatigue, sweating, dizziness, inability to concentrate, mood swings and irritability. So if you have diabetes, it can be hard to tell the difference between menopausal symptoms and symptoms of high or low blood sugar.

The hormonal fluctuations of menopause have varied effects on our blood glucose, and these effects can range from mild to wreaking havoc on our blood glucose balance.

With less progesterone you may have greater insulin sensitivity, but with less estrogen you can also have increased insulin resistance. And the decrease in both estrogen and progesterone can cause other changes which may worsen diabetic complications:

  • As your body produces less estrogen your body becomes more resistant to insulin which can cause your blood sugar levels to rise
  • As your body produces less progesterone your body is more receptive to insulin and this can cause your blood sugar levels to drop

So for women in menopause who have diabetes controlling the symptoms of menopause, using hormone replacement therapy, HRT, can be a challenge.

It has been said that women with diabetes can’t take hormone replacement therapy because of how it affects their blood sugar.

This makes the case that for menopausal women who have diabetes it is important to explore alternative, natural hormone replacement options as well as natural products that help control your diabetes. I can assist you with suggestions on some very good products that do just that!

Another factor for menopausal women who have diabetes is the ability to control the level of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine is an amino acid that is transported throughout the body in the blood. Hormones have a big influence on controlling homocysteine.

When the ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone during menopause, homocysteine levels rise. Higher levels of homocysteine, as documented in the American Journal of Medicine, are linked to the development of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, among others.

There is a new study that indicates that Metformin treatment increases the level of homocysteine in Type II diabetes patients who take insulin.

The best way to control and detoxify elevated levels of homocysteine in the blood is by taking a combination of the B Vitamins: B-12, B-6 and Folic Acid. I can assist you with a product suggestion for controlling homocysteine.

Post Menopause And Diabetes

After menopause the risk of vaginal yeast infections, vaginitis, increases for women with diabetes. As estrogen levels decrease, yeast and bacteria have an easier time growing, especially if blood glucose levels are frequently too high.

Yeast thrives in warm, moist places with a good supply of glucose. Some suggestions that may help prevent or control yeast infections are:

  • Lessen problems during post menopause and diabetes complications by working at keeping your blood glucose levels under control
  • Lessen problems during post menopause and diabetes complications by using natural hormone replacement products
  • Lessen problems during post menopause and diabetes complications by taking a digestive enzyme/acidophilus supplement to help keep the balance of good bacteria in your system

The Importance Of Supplements For Women In Menopause And Diabetes

The word diabetes means “siphon,” so water-soluble vitamins and several minerals are excreted in abundance by women with menopause and diabetes. So an adequate supplementation of vitamins and minerals is extremely important in the management of menopause and diabetes.

Minerals like chromium and vanadium are known to assist the function of insulin and current research shows that calcium and magnesium are important for the control of blood glucose and insulin receptor function.

Soy is also valuable in the management of menopause and diabetes, as we discussed earlier.

Ovarian Cancer and Menopause

Ovarian cancer and menopause does seem to cause quite a bit of concern in a lot of women. However, menopause itself is not associated with an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.

On the other hand, the rates of many cancers, including ovarian cancer, do increase with age.

How well you manage your health as you get older determines your overall risk for developing diseases such as cancer. Also, some of the medications prescribed to manage menopausal symptoms may play a part in putting you at risk for developing cancer.

To fully understand the relationship between ovarian cancer and menopause you must first be aware of just what ovarian cancer is.

Ovarian cancer is a malignant tumour that can develop in one or both of your ovaries. As you know, the ovaries are the two small organs in your body located in the lower abdomen (pelvis) on either side of the womb (uterus), and they produce and release ova, human eggs. The ovaries also produce estrogen and progesterone.

Not all ovarian tumors are cancerous. Many tumors are benign ovarian masses and can be: abscesses or infections, fibroids, cysts, polycystic ovaries, or endometriosis related masses.

About 20% of tumors or masses found in women who are still menstruating, and have not gone through menopause, are cancerous. For women who have been through menopause about 45% of tumors or masses that are found are cancerous.

Ovarian Cancer is classified in the following ways:

  • Epithelial tumors: These tumors arise from the layer of cells that surround the outside of the ovary. About 75% of ovarian cancers are epithelial and this is usually found in women who have been through menopause.
  • Stromal tumors: these tumors develop from connective tissue cells that help form the structure of the ovary and produce hormones. Usually only one ovary is involved. This accounts for about 10% of ovarian cancers and occurs in women 40 to 60 years old.
  • Germ Cell tumors: these tumors arise from the germs cells, the cells that produce the egg. This accounts for about 15% of ovarian cancers.

These tumors most often develop in young women.

  • Metastatic tumors: these are tumors that occur in the ovaries as a result of cancer spreading from other parts of the body; such as, colon, breast, stomach and pancreas. This accounts for only 5% of ovarian cancers.

When ovarian cancer is discovered in its earliest stages it can be cured 90% of the time. Unfortunately, early ovarian cancer detection is hard to do. But if ovarian cancer is diagnosed before it has spread to other organs, then the five year survival rate is greater than 75%.

What Are The Causes Of Ovarian Cancer?

The cause of ovarian cancer is not really known and ovarian cancer and menopause are not directly linked, however, there is an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer if:

  • A woman has a family history of ovarian cancer
  • A woman has never been pregnant
  • A woman is over the age of 50, as the risk of ovarian cancer increases with age.
  • A woman has Ashkenazi Jewish heritage
  • A woman has European (white) heritage: White women are more likely to develop ovarian cancer than African American women
  • There is repeated exposure of the genitals to talc
  • There is irradiation of the pelvic area

As mentioned above ovarian cancer and menopause are not directly linked because menopause itself does not cause ovarian cancer, but some studies have linked the long-term use of estrogen therapy and or hormone replacement therapy (over 10 years) to an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

So, again, if you are considering medical hormone replacement therapy, discuss the risks and benefits with your medical practitioner and understand ovarian cancer and menopause.

The following factors decrease your risk of ovarian cancer:

  • Pregnancy – as the number of pregnancies increases, the risk of ovarian cancer decreases
  • Breastfeeding lowers the risk of ovarian cancer and risk decreases with the increasing duration of breastfeeding
  • Having your “tubes tied” (tubal ligation) to prevent pregnancy or having a hysterectomy lowers your risk of ovarian cancer

What Are The Symptoms Of Ovarian Cancer?

Ovarian cancer and menopause are not directly linked but are there and similar symptoms between ovarian cancer and menopause?

Ovarian cancer in its early stages has few symptoms. The first sign of ovarian cancer is an enlarged ovary, but this can go unnoticed until it becomes advanced. Usually symptoms of ovarian cancer do not occur until the tumor has grown large enough to apply pressure to other organs or the cancer has spread to remote organs in the body.

And some symptoms of ovarian cancer are so non-specific that they may not be considered as symptoms of ovarian cancer.

Symptoms of more advanced ovarian cancer include:

  • Swollen abdomen-caused by build up of fluids produced by the tumor
  • Lower abdominal and leg pain
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Change in bowel or bladder function, e.g. urinary frequency
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Gas and/or diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Swelling in the legs
  • Pain with intercourse

A good rule of thumb is to see your doctor if you have abdominal pain, distension or bloating that cannot be explained for the usual reasons.

And remember if you have any concerns about ovarian cancer and menopause see your doctor.

Some Ovarian Cancer And Menopause Tips To Protect Yourself

Here are a few tips on how you can lesson the risk of ovarian cancer:

  • Get a yearly pelvic exam
  • See your doctor if you have any irregular, vaginal bleeding or abdominal pain
  • Discuss with your doctor the risk factor of ovarian cancer for you if any of your close family members like your mother or sisters have ovarian cancer
  • Eat a low fat diet