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Menopause 101


How do you know if you are entering menopause? If you think you are, see your physician sooner rather than later. Your symptomatic and long-term treatment may be much more successful if begun early.

Take Dr. Donnica's Decisionnaire™. Check off all the points that apply to you and take this list with you when you consult your physician.

__ You are a woman whose periods have become less regular
__ Your periods have stopped for more than 3 months (and you are not pregnant).
__ You are having hot flashes.
__ You have night sweats that wake you from sleep.
__ You are suddenly moody and irritable without causes that make sense to you or you have frequent mood swings.
__ You are having sleeping problems
__ You have reached the age at which your mother reached menopause
__ You have had chemotherapy or radiation.

Your doctor may advise you to keep a diary of your menstrual bleeding: its frequency, duration, amount, and any associated symptoms. This would also note menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes or night sweats. This will help your physician confirm your clinical diagnosis.

After taking a complete history and doing a complete physical (including an internal exam), there are numerous tests your physician may order to rule out related conditions- this may include a pregnancy test, thyroid and pituitary tests, and tests for autoimmune diseases. The most important test, however, will be an FSH. This is a blood test for the hormone that causes the ovaries to produce estrogen. The higher the FSH, the lower your ovarian function. This should be done at least twice, a month apart. Your doctor may also recommend a blood estradiol level.

If you are in menopause, your doctor may recommend other tests such as a bone mass measurement to see if you have osteoporosis. Ask your physician if there are other screening tests that you require if you are menopausal.

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 Stress management techniques are high on the list of menopausal management strategies. Lifestyle modifications can also help- get enough rest, exercise, and eat healthfully. 

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