Menopause...something that most women face at some time in their life. Now, there is a "home-use" test for menopause that has been approved by the FDA. As disappointing and surprising as it may seem, many aspects of the menopause process remain a mystery to medical science. The medical definition of menopause is when menstrual periods stop for 12 months as a consequence of the ovaries shutting down. Menopause is not defined by a blood test, or a urine test, or any laboratory test for that matter. For the Doctor's View, by Dr. Carolyn Crandall on this test, please read "Home Use Menopause Test Kits: Are They Worth It?"
What does this home-use menopause test kit do?
This is a home-use test kit to measure Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) in your urine. This may help indicate if you are in menopause or perimenopause.
What is menopause?
Menopause is the stage in your life when menstruation stops for at least 12 months. The time before this is called perimenopause and could last for several years. You may reach menopause in your early 40's or as late as your 60's.
What is FSH?
Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) is a hormone produced by your pituitary gland. FSH levels increase temporarily each month to stimulate your ovaries to produce eggs. When you enter menopause and your ovaries stop working, your FSH levels also increase.
What type of test is this?
This is a qualitative test -- you find out whether or not you have elevated FSH levels, not if you definitely are in menopause or perimenopause.
Why should you do this menopause test?
You should use this test if you want to know if your symptoms, such as irregular periods, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, or sleep problems are part of menopause. While many women may have little or no trouble when going through the stages of menopause, others may have moderate to severe discomfort and may want treatment to alleviate their symptoms. This test may help you be better informed about your current condition when you see your doctor.
How accurate is this menopause test?
These tests will accurately detect FSH about 9 out of 10 times. This test does not detect menopause or perimenopause. As you grow older, your FSH levels may rise and fall during your menstrual cycle. While your hormone levels are changing, your ovaries continue to release eggs and you can still become pregnant.
Your test will depend on whether you...
- used your first morning urine,
- drank large amounts of water before the test,
- use, or recently stopped using, oral or patch contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy, or estrogen supplements.
How do you do this menopause test?
In this test, you put a few drops of your urine on a test device, put the end of the testing device in your urine stream, or dip the test device into a cup of urine. Chemicals in the test device react with FSH and produce a color. Read the instructions with the test you buy to learn exactly what to look for in this test.
Are the home menopause tests similar to the ones my doctor uses?
Some home menopause tests are identical to the one your doctor uses. However, doctors would not use this test by itself. Your doctor would use your medical history, physical exam, and other laboratory tests to get a more thorough assessment of your condition.
Does a positive test mean you are in menopause?
A positive test indicates that you may be in a stage of menopause. If you have a positive test, or if you have any symptoms of menopause, you should see your doctor. Do not stop taking contraceptives based on the results of these tests because they are not foolproof and you could become pregnant.
Do negative test results indicate that you are not in menopause?
If you have a negative test result, but you have symptoms of menopause, you may be in perimenopause or menopause. You should not assume that a negative test means you have not reached menopause, there could be other reasons for the negative result. You should always discuss your symptoms and your test results with your doctor. Do not use these tests to determine if you are fertile or can become pregnant. These tests will not give you a reliable answer on your ability to become pregnant.
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration (www.fda.gov)