Menopause and perimenopause are popular topics in the news, thanks to celebrities such as Davina McColl being more open about symptoms of menopause and how it feels to go through it. But how do you know if you are going through one or the other?
What are perimenopause and menopause?
According to the NHS, perimenopause is when you have symptoms of menopause before your periods have stopped. Menopause is when your periods stop due to lower hormone levels.
What are the common symptoms of perimenopause and menopause?
It is important to note that symptoms of perimenopause and menopause will differ for everyone, and some may have several symptoms while others may have none.
Symptoms of menopause can start months before your periods stop – and this is called perimenopause.
The most common symptom of menopause is a change in the pattern of your periods, leading to them stopping altogether.
This may be coupled with physical symptoms such as:
- hot flushes (which can sometimes make you dizzy)
- difficulty sleeping
- heart palpitations
- worse headaches than usual
- joint pain and muscle ache
- changing body shape and weight gain
- dry and itchy skin
- reduced sex drive
- itching or discomfort during sex, and vaginal dryness and pain
- recurring urinary tract infections (UTIs)
You may also experience changes in your mental health, such as anxiety, mood swings and problems with concentration and memory.
Something else that can make it difficult to know whether you are experiencing menopause or not is contraception. Taking hormonal contraception can cause your periods to become irregular or absent, which is the first sign of menopause and so may mask the fact that you are actually in menopause.
One option for you, if you are wondering whether you are menopausal or not, is to take a hormonal blood test such as the Test2Go Menopause Hormonal Profile test. This test checks for the essential hormones needed to give you information about menopause. It can also help with hormone replacement therapy monitoring, period problems, and similar hormone-related issues.
Can a blood test be used to diagnose menopause?
In certain circumstances, yes. It is important to remember that hormonal blood tests, like the Test2Go blood test, measure certain hormone levels in your blood. If you are perimenopausal or menopausal, then the hormonal changes found will usually be low levels of oestrogen (estradiol)m which is known as the sex hormone and raised levels of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH), which control the function of the ovaries.
However, it is not as clear-cut as this. For example, an FSH level in the normal range does not rule out menopause. So, you should test your hormone levels again six weeks after your first test to confirm whether you are in menopause.
How does the Menopause Hormones Profile test work?
When you order the menopause hormones profile test, you will be sent a home test kit that contains all of the equipment you will need to complete the test, instructions on completing the test and how to return your sample to us.
The test requires you to provide a finger-prick blood sample using the enclosed kit and then return this sample to our accredited labs. We will process your sample and give you the results within two working days.
NB. It is important to note that our tests are not a substitute for seeing a doctor, particularly if you have symptoms. You should not make a diagnosis or start any treatment without a consultation with a doctor or a suitably trained health professional.