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How is menopause diagnosed?

Marjorie Nolan Cohn
Nutrition & Dietetics

Symptoms vary from woman to woman. They may last 5 or more years. Some women may have worse symptoms than others. Symptoms of surgical menopause can be more severe and start more suddenly.

The first thing most women notice is that periods start to change. They become irregular and might occur more or less often. Irregular periods can last for 1 - 3 years before the periods completely stop.

Symptoms of menopause include:

  • Menstrual periods that occur less often and eventually stop
  • Heart pounding or racing
  • Hot flashes, usually worst during the first 1 - 2 years
  • Night sweats
  • Skin flushing
  • Difficulty sleeping

Other symptoms of menopause may include:

  • Decreased interest in sex, possibly decreased response to sexual stimulation
  • Forgetfulness (in some women)
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings including irritability, depression, and anxiety
  • Urine leakage
  • Vaginal dryness and painful sexual intercourse
  • Vaginal infections
  • Joint aches and pains
  • Irregular heartbeat or palpitations

If you are in your, or approaching your menopausal years you may want to consider seeing your doctor. A simple test or two can confirm if you are in or entering menopause. Blood and urine tests can be used to look for changes in hormone levels. Test results can help your doctor advise you on treatment options, whatever stage of menopause you are at.

Tests that may be done include:

  • Estradiol – this is your blood test for estrogen
  • FSH – this is a blood test for follicle-stimulating hormone
  • LH – blood test for Luteinizing Hormone, generally done in conjunction with other tests. LH stimulates ovulation.
Your health care provider will perform a pelvic exam. Decreased estrogen can cause changes in the lining of the vagina.
Patricia Geraghty, NP
Women's Health
Menopause is one year without vaginal bleeding. However, what a woman usually wants to know, while experiencing the changes in her cycles as she approaches that last period is "when will the last bleeding occur?" Just this year an updated study trying to answer that question was published, the STRAW10. They looked at all the various blood tests, hormone measurements, ultrasounds, and examinations available. What was the only reliable predictor of all the methods studied? When a woman goes more than 60 days between menstrual periods, her very last menstrual period will occur within the next 12 to 36 months.

Continue Learning about Menopause

Can I Tell When a Hot Flash Will Be Coming?
Can I Tell When a Hot Flash Will Be Coming?
Can a Proper Diet Help in Dealing with Hot Flashes?
Can a Proper Diet Help in Dealing with Hot Flashes?
How Can a Woman Treat Vaginal Dryness Caused by Menopause?
How Can a Woman Treat Vaginal Dryness Caused by Menopause?
What Causes Hot Flashes?
What Causes Hot Flashes?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.