In an ideal world, we would be able to navigate life’s major milestones with grace and poise. Menopause wouldn’t get us down or dictate how we can or cannot live our lives. Of course, reality is much more complicated, and many women struggle with the emotional and physical effects of hormonal change. But with the right support, you can take the reins and decide just how your best life will unfold.
Approaching this journey with strength is not about fixing what is broken. It is about embracing your body’s evolution and learning what it has to teach you. Together with a hormone practitioner, you can begin to understand your body’s new, perhaps unfamiliar needs. And, for many, this begins with a menopause hormone health test. With this test, you may be able to trace symptoms back to their root, understand how changing hormone levels are affecting your body’s daily processes, and create a treatment strategy that works for you.
What Is Menopause? Perimenopause? Postmenopause?
In order to understand the importance of hormonal levels and the value of hormone tests during the menopausal transition, it helps to lift the curtain from these often-heavy terms and see what’s underneath. By understanding the terminology, you can get a better sense of how this transition unfolds and what it may mean for you:
The menopausal transition begins some years before menopause officially sets in. This stage is known as perimenopause. Commonly, women begin perimenopause in their mid- to late-40s, and it can last for up to 8 years. This phase is characterized by hormonal fluctuations as estrogen and progesterone production begins to wane, often resulting in a host of uncomfortable and distressing symptoms. Perimenopause continues up until the onset of menopause.
The onset of menopause is marked by the twelfth month following a woman’s last menstrual period. At this time, the ovaries have stopped releasing fertile eggs and the production of estrogen and progesterone are significantly reduced compared to her reproductive years. Not all women experience perceptible symptoms during this transition, but for those who do, the symptoms can weigh heavily on their daily lives.
Menopause is a stage in a woman’s evolution. There comes a time when the hormonal transition settles and she faces the postmenopause phase. While for some women, the symptoms experienced during perimenopause and immediately after menopause begin to fade, others see symptoms continue for years—or experience new symptoms altogether. Additionally, women face a number of health risks in postmenopause due to the drop in hormones that play such critical functions for underlying health. These increased risks can include heart disease, osteoporosis, stroke, and vaginal atrophy.
While these transitional phases are natural, suffering and disempowerment are not inevitable. When you can lean on an expert’s perspective and identify the possibilities for hormonal treatment, you can make life-changing choices for your future.
What Does a Menopause Hormone Test Measure?
The menopausal journey, its onset, and its milestones are determined by changing patterns in a woman’s reproductive cycle. Often, the most significant milestones is determined by the cessation of menstruation and does not need to be confirmed with a clinical test. However, because our hormonal health is such a fundamental part of our overall health, hormone tests can shine a critical light on the need for support and provide clarity in the face of uncertainty.
Perimenopause may be difficult to test for because it is inherently a state of fluctuations. But repeat hormone testing may be able to track overall levels of estrogen, progesterone, and follicular stimulating hormone (FSH) to help give context for distressing symptoms—and the possibility for treatment. When it comes to menopause itself, however, the answers are more clear; according to the North American Menopause Society, levels of FSH that are consistently 30 mIU/mL or higher indicate that a woman has reached menopause. While other organizations may have slightly different thresholds, it is generally agreed that hormone tests can be used to identify menopause. Of course, the value of a menopause hormone test isn’t simply to confirm menopause for its own sake. Rather, it can help you better care for your health.
The hormonal changes of menopause can bring a host of side effects, some of which can be highly distressing and limiting. These symptoms can include:
- Hot flashes
- Weight gain
- Loss of bone density and osteoporosis
- Vaginal dryness
- Low sex drive
While some of these may appear to be telltale signs of menopause, others are common symptoms of other health concerns, including potentially serious disorders. A hormone test can help to determine the root of your symptoms—whether they can be traced to menopause or another health condition. By understanding the cause of your symptoms, you can safely address and correct them. If your symptoms can be traced to particular hormone levels, a range of treatment options can help to restore balance in this new chapter of your life. But connecting to the right health care practitioner is critical to ensuring you get the best care.
Getting the Right Support
When you find a practitioner who specializes in hormone health, you have a guide and a partner through one of the most pivotal points in your health. In order to adequately address hormonal issues, these hormone experts must take into account not just your hormone levels, but your overall health, lifestyle, and personal preferences. After all, hormone tests are important, but so are your own wellness goals. Your practitioner can help you develop a sustainable treatment plan to prepare you for what’s ahead.
For many women, that plan includes hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT is an accessible and well-tolerated treatment option that can go a long way toward mitigating symptoms and wider risks as you welcome this new phase of your life. By supplementing your natural hormone levels, you can revive your body, alleviate symptoms, and even protect your long-term health. When combined with lifestyle routines that support sustainable well-being, HRT can help you feel like yourself again—now and for years to come.
After all, other changes may be common at this time of life as well. Maybe you have children who are moving on to their own next chapters and leaving you with an empty nest. Maybe you are making a career change or starting to contemplate retirement. The hormonal changes happening under the surface have the potential to make these transitions even more challenging. Alternatively, with the treatment tools to support your own hormonal health, you will likely feel even more empowered to embrace these transitions as opportunities.
If you want to know more about hormone testing, BodyLogicMD can help. The BodyLogicMD network is comprised of experienced practitioners who specialize in hormonal health. With the guidance of a BodyLogicMD-affiliated practitioner, you can ensure that you have the personalized support you need to address your menopause symptoms and optimize your long-term health. Contact a local practitioner to schedule your first appointment, or take the BodyLogicMD Hormone Balance Quiz to learn more about how hormones may be affecting your everyday life.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. All content on this website is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases.
Charlotte is a patient care coordinator specializing in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. She is committed to helping patients who struggle with the symptoms of hormonal change and imbalance explore their treatment options and develop effective strategies to optimize wellness.