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
- Vaginal dryness
- Decreased sex drive
- Urinary incontinence and/or recurrent urinary infections
- Memory problems
What Are Some Menopause Tests?
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.