Self-Testing for Menopause

Checking for Menopause at Home

Menopause is the stage in life when menstruation stops for at least 12 months. The stage prior to this is called perimenopause and could last for several years. You may reach menopause in your early 40s or as late as your 60s.

Menopausal symptoms include irregular periods, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and sleep problems. While some people navigate menopause rather easily, others experience moderate to severe discomfort and may want treatment to ease their symptoms.

You can use an at-home self-test to learn if your symptoms mean you are in a stage of menopause and if it's time to see your healthcare provider for relief.

This article describes the science behind at-home menopause test kits, who might want to take the test, and how the test works. It also explains how to interpret the results as well as their degree of accuracy.

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The Science Behind the Test

At-home menopause test kits measure follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) in your urine. FSH is 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 producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone, your FSH levels also increase.

A menopause self-test will tell you if your FSH levels are elevated, not if you definitely are in menopause or perimenopause.

If your levels are high, and your symptoms are bothersome, it's time to talk to your healthcare provider. They will review your medical history as well as that of your family before offering suggestions on how best to manage your symptoms.  

If you're still menstruating, even infrequently, also keep in mind that 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.

Symptoms Run the Gamut

A person has reached menopause when they have not had a period for one year. But symptoms can begin several years earlier. They include:

  • A change in periods, meaning shorter or longer, lighter or heavier, and with more or less time in between them
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Hot flashes and/or night sweats
  • Less hair on the head and more on the face
  • Mood swings
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Vaginal dryness

Who Should Take the Test?

People who are experiencing menopausal symptoms and want to know if they are part of menopause may wish to take an at-home menopause test. More than indulging their curiosity, the test can serve as a rationale for a person to make an appointment with their healthcare provider.

The provider is likely to make an official diagnosis of menopause if a person is 45 or older and has not menstruated for one year. At this point, no lab testing is necessary; it would be redundant, especially if a person is experiencing menopausal symptoms.

Menopause Marks a Change

Menopause is often referred to as "a change of life" because it represents the transition between a person's childbearing years and nonchildbearing years.

How the Test Works

Menopause tests function in the same, simple manner as an at-home pregnancy test: You put the end of a plastic device under your urine stream or dip the device into a cup of your urine. The chemicals in the device react with your FSH and produce a reading of "positive" or "negative." But read the instructions in your home test kit to be certain.

Some home menopause tests are identical to the ones healthcare providers use. But providers don't rely on the test result alone. They need to know your medical history and that of your family as part of a thorough assessment of your condition.

Estrogen Matters

Menopause is the result of the gradual loss of estrogen, a hormone produced in the ovaries. This loss carries consequences, particularly the risk of osteoporosis, which is thinning of the bones. This condition can lead to a loss in bone mass, which in turn may lead to curvature of the spine, fractures, and pain.

How to Interpret the Results

A positive test result indicates that you may be in a stage of menopause. But do not assume too much: If you're using a contraceptive, continue using it. The test results are not foolproof, and you could become pregnant without birth control.

If you have a negative test result but you're also experiencing menopausal symptoms, you may be in perimenopause or even menopause after all. But a negative reading does not mean you have not reached menopause, either; other factors could be contributing to the negative result. This is where a healthcare provider can be particularly helpful in sorting through all the pieces to this puzzle and fitting them together properly.

Similarly, do not use the test results to gauge your fertility or ability to become pregnant. These tests will not give you a reliable answer.

Therapy Takes Several Forms

Healthcare providers may prescribe one of four types of hormone medicine used during and after menopause to replace the hormones that the body stops making after menopause:


  • Estrogen-only medicine
  • Progestin-only medicine
  • Combination estrogen and progestin medicine
  • Combination estrogen and other medicine

How Accurate Is the Test?

Like any other test, a home menopause test can be influenced by external factors. In this case, the results could be skewed by whether you:

The instructions in your test kit may spell out the consequences. If not, call your healthcare provider for advice.

Still, the test is widely considered to be reliable: It accurately detects FSH about 9 times out of 10.

Summary

At-home menopause test kits measure follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) in your urine. Levels of this hormone increase temporarily each month to stimulate your ovaries to produce eggs. When you enter menopause and your ovaries stop making estrogen and progesterone, your FSH levels also increase. The test is similar to an at-home pregnancy test: You put the end of a plastic device under your urine stream or dip the device into a cup of your urine and wait for the reading to appear.

By taking a menopause self-test, you will learn whether your FSH levels are elevated, not if you definitely are in menopause or perimenopause. If your FSH levels are high, and your symptoms are bothersome, it's time to talk to your healthcare provider. They will review your medical history as well as that of your family before offering suggestions on how best to manage your symptoms. 

A Word From Verywell

Menopausal hormone therapy may lie in your future if your menopausal symptoms are causing you considerable discomfort or distress. There is a good deal to learn about your choices, as well as some of the risks involved in hormone therapy. In the meantime, keep two guiding principles from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration in mind: Take the lowest dose possible for the shortest amount of time.

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7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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