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Diagnosing Menopause

If you are in your late 30's or early 40's you might be wondering when the early symptoms of menopause are going to hit. You may have started to experience some early signs of perimenopause - such as less regular periods, more frequent mood swings, occasional of vaginal dryness and more frequent sleep issues. At this point you may be wondering if this is the start of menopause or something else? While getting the official news, that you've begun the long process of menopause is not often something we women are excited to hear, it can help explain what's going on with your body as well as identify what to expect in the months and years to come.

Your gynecologist or primary care physician should be able to diagnose if you've entered into menopause. Menopause typically starts between the ages of 36 to 50 with increasing symptoms, over time, as key hormones decrease. The early stage of menopause is called perimonopause and is identified as those years when signs of menopause occur but while a woman is still experiencing a period. Perimenopause can last a few years to several years.

When diagnosing a woman with menopause, a doctor typically reviews a list of symptoms and may also run a series of blood tests to determine if a hormonal shift has occurred. These blood tests often rule out other causes of your hormonal issues such as thyroid or pituitary problems. Doctors can also measure levels of follicle stimulation hormone or FSH and estrogen levels to also help determine if menopause has begun. Besides ruling out other conditions, and assisting with some symptoms, there's no exact science to diagnosing the early signs of menopause but doctor's are typically correct with their appraisals.

Once you've received the news that menopause has begun, it's good to remember that this a natural process the body goes through and will take several years before your last period occurs. Paying attention to adding exercise and a healthy diet can help improve the many symptoms of menopause. High fiber diets rich in fruit, vegetables and whole grain can do wonders in improving many symptoms of menopause. Additional help is also available through hormone replacement, a mild antidepressants, as well as some natural alternatives.

While diagnosing a woman with early signs of menopause is not an exact science many tests can assist in the process. Knowing that you're body has begun to produce lower levels of hormones is not a death sentence but the normal process of any woman.

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