Diagnosis of Menopause
by Amy Scholten, MPH
Natural menopause is usually diagnosed when a woman has not had a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, family and medical history, and perform a physical exam. You may have blood tests, a pelvic exam, and a Pap smear.
Most women in their late 40s and early 50s will have menopausal symptoms. Your doctor will consider if testing for other possible causes of these symptoms is needed.
In most cases, hormone tests are not needed. However, your doctor may give you a follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) test, which measures the level of FSH in your blood. This is done to confirm that you are in menopause. Women most likely to have this test are those who have had a hysterectomy with preservation of ovaries. Without the cessation of menstruation as a guide, the FSH level may be used to diagnose menopause.
FSH is produced by your pituitary gland and stimulates your ovaries to produce estrogen. As your estrogen levels decline, your pituitary gland produces more FSH, which enters your blood in an attempt to stimulate more estrogen. When blood levels of FSH consistently rise to certain levels, it is likely that you have reached menopause. More than one FSH test may be needed to confirm menopause. You should not be taking birth control pills when you have an FSH test because birth control pills contain hormones that will affect the test results.
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). Lab Tests Online—American Association for Clinical Chemistry website. Available at: https://labtestsonline.org/tests/follicle-stimulating-hormone-fsh. Updated April 17, 2018. Accessed April 17, 2018.
Menopause. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114698/Menopause . Updated March 15, 2018. Accessed April 17, 2018.
Menopause basics. Office on Women's Health website. Available at:
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Updated October 20, 2017. Accessed April 17, 2018.
The menopause years. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: https://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq047.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20130416T1306377302. Updated May 2015. Accessed April 17, 2018.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcie L. Sidman, MD
Last Updated: 3/15/2015
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