Early or premature menopause is typically confirmed through a combination of a medical history, symptom evaluation, and blood tests to measure hormone levels. Here are the steps a doctor might take:
- Medical history: Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and your menstrual cycle. They will also take a family history, asking about whether any other women in your family have experienced early menopause.
- Physical examination: A physical exam, including a pelvic exam, may be performed. This helps the doctor identify any physical changes that are consistent with menopause.
- Blood tests: The most common test is to measure the level of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). FSH levels increase when the ovaries stop producing sufficient estrogen. If levels are consistently higher than normal, it might indicate that the body is entering menopause. Another blood test that might be performed measures the level of estradiol (a type of estrogen). Lower-than-normal levels can suggest that the ovaries are starting to fail and can be a sign of menopause. Anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) is another marker that might be used. Low levels of AMH can also suggest a decreased ovarian reserve (a reduced number of eggs in the ovaries), suggesting the onset of menopause.
- Other tests: Occasionally, doctors might recommend other tests to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms, such as thyroid disease or pregnancy.
Remember, it’s important to consult a healthcare provider if you suspect you’re experiencing early menopause. They can provide a definitive diagnosis and discuss potential treatment options.