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Skip the Misleading At-Home Menopause Tests

For people who menstruate, perimenopause and menopause are an inevitable part of life. Hormonal changes can make this a difficult time, and it may be tempting to use an at-home test kit to determine if you have entered this stage of your life, especially if you are experiencing symptoms. However, at-home menopause test kits are not an accurate science, and you should instead see your health care provider for more precise testing and personalized care.

Understanding Menopause and Perimenopause

Perimenopause, also called the menopausal transition, is when your body starts the progression toward menopause. Most women experience this in their 40s, but it can begin as early as the mid-30s. Estrogen levels in your body rise and fall unevenly, and you may have irregular menstrual cycles and typical menopause symptoms such as: 

  • Hot flashes
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Night sweats
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Mood changes
  • Hair thinning or hair loss
  • Chills
  • Weight gain

However, the status of your menstrual cycle is what determines if you are officially menopausal. 

“Twelve consecutive months of no menstrual bleeding is really what defines menopause.”
Camille Moreno DO, MSCP Medical Director of University of Utah Hospital’s Midlife Women’s Health and Menopausal Program.

Why At-Home Test Kits Aren’t Reliable

If you’re in your 40s and experiencing menopause symptoms, it may be tempting to reach for a test kit the next time you’re in a shop. However, tests are pricey and may give you misleading results.

These kits test your urine for the presence of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which manages the menstrual cycle by stimulating the ovaries to release an egg. 

However, FSH levels can vary greatly from person to person and fluctuate during the course of the menstrual cycle. So they are not a reliable marker of someone’s menopause status.

“Results can be hard to interpret and it’s not something women can rely on for accuracy,” Moreno says. “You still need to be able to talk to and be evaluated by a professional, especially if symptoms are debilitating. We need to look at the entire clinical picture, not just one value.”

Importance of Clinical Testing

If you’re not experiencing any menopause symptoms, there is no need to test for them. However, if you are having symptoms, the best course of action is to see your doctor. 

“We can figure out if there are any other conditions that may be causing symptoms,” Moreno says. “For example, thyroid disorders, specifically hypothyroidism, may mimic perimenopausal symptoms.”

Bloodwork will provide a more precise measurement of hormone levels and can determine if you have any underlying conditions, along with the best course of action for treatment if you do. Your doctor will likely do screenings for: 

  • Thyroid disorders 
  • Anemia
  • Vitamin deficiencies 
  • Diabetes
  • Cholesterol
  • Kidney function
  • Liver function
  • Electrolytes

There is no need to spend money on pricey at-home tests that may cause you unnecessary stress with misleading results. By visiting your doctor, you can undergo a personalized assessment to get to the bottom of what’s causing your symptoms and a clearer picture of your overall health.