Can A Hormone Test Really Tell Me If I’m in Menopause?
If you’re a woman in your early to mid 40’s you’ve likely begun to wonder if/when you’ll begin to see signs of your body entering menopause, and how you can clearly tell that whether or not you’ve become menopausal. For some, this may be rooted in a certain degree of anxiety (after all, the “M” word gets a bad rap), and for others, it may be more of a gentle curiosity. Either way, being prepared is one of the best ways to take control of your menopause experience, and makes it far easier to “return” to your normal way of life despite your body’s transition. Read on to learn some identifying signs of entering menopause, as well as a brief discussion on hormone testing.
When Should I start Seeing Signs?
The truth is, every woman’s menopause journey is unique. Some may experience perimenopause and encounter symptoms as early as their mid to late thirties, while others may not see signs until their early 50’s. The most common age range tends to be around 40-55, but if you find yourself outside these guidelines and are in perfect health, it is unlikely that there is a direct cause for concern (always consult your physician if you feel your experience is irregular or are observing sudden shifts without an identifiable cause).
The most common symptoms that women begin to identify as they approach menopause are:
- Hot Flashes
- Night Sweats
- Irritability/Mood swings
- Mental fog
- Inconsistent periods
If you have been without a period for over a year and have no other medical ailments that may disrupt your cycle otherwise, there’s a chance you may have already entered menopause. If your symptoms are just starting, there’s not direct way to tell exactly how long it will take until you transition to the post-menopause phase.
What About Scientific Testing?
Hormone testing can be a fantastic way to gain insight about the inner workings of our bodies, particularly as we come close to the age range for menopause. That said, they are not an accurate judge of whether or not you’ve entered or finished menopause. This is because the tests are designed to identify key chemicals like cortisol, estrogen, progesterone and DHEA at a specific time, and usually for a highly specific purpose. Because menopause directly interacts with so many different systems in our bodies and can create fluctuations in hormones that are hard to predict or track, hormone tests provide mediocre results at best when it comes to identifying menopause. In short, they may provide a tiny piece of the puzzle, but the best way to understand the whole picture is to listen to your body, consult with your doctor, and understand that menopause is a journey, not an event.
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