Perimenopause and menopause are natural stages of a woman's life, but symptoms can vary throughout this period of life and can range from less to extremely severe. So when should you seek your doctor's advice for symptoms related to menopause? As hormonal levels fluctuate, symptoms may increase or decrease in severity over time. Since your body is changing, talking to your family physician any time is never a bad idea, and can put you on the right path of living a more healthy life.
As you visit your doctor, s/he might want to understand the frequency and severity of your symptoms, and your family's medical history as well, especially regarding breast cancer, osteoporosis, and heart disease. It's often helpful to prepare a brief medical history before you schedule an appointment, and take this information with you when you visit your doctor.
During your visit, your doctor may order estrogen testing, to determine what levels of estrogen you have (estradiol, estron and estriol), but hormonal levels can fluctuate throughout the cycle, and cannot always be a definite indicator. Your doctor may also want to perform several other tests to diagnose your stage of menopause, because of the body's overall changing needs. These tests may include:
One key thing to remember throughout the perimenopausal stage is that until 12 months have passed from your last period, it is still possible to get pregnant, even though you may experience infrequent menstrual cycles. And, regardless of which stage of menopause you find yourself experiencing, sexually transmitted diseases can still be transmitted.
After you and your doctor have determined that you are moving into a perimenopause or menopause stage, you can seek treatment, if necessary, for some of the symptoms you are experiencing. But what treatments options are currently available? To learn more about how to get some menopause relief, read our Treating Menopause section now.