So, there is a new test – a cheap, over the counter, simple urine test which will give women the ability to find out their Follicular Stimulating Hormone (FSH) level. The idea is, the higher the FSH level, the more likely you are to be in or heading towards menopause.
There are two aspects that really worry me, firstly why test, secondly the wider issue of the “menopause bandwagon”.
Whilst it is true that FSH rises during and after menopause, the keyword for menopause hormones is chaos. There are many other hormones that are present and control our changing cycles. It is the relationship between the levels of hormones that are a more useful predictor of what exactly is going on.
A client of mine had a Female Hormone test which covers FSH alongside oestrogen, progesterone, Luteining Hormone, Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. The FSH was very high, but all the other hormones were perfectly in line for becoming pregnant. So FSH alone is not reliable.
Any test is only useful when the results indicate a particular course of action. The NHS stopped routinely testing for menopause on the basis that this is a natural process that all women pass through. If a woman presents with menopausal symptoms, then those can be addressed. Not all women suffer, all medications have side effects and prescribing just in case is not considered good practice.
It seems everywhere we look there are companies selling something for menopause – I’ve seen menopause exercise to menopause diets, tapping into natural worries and which claim to “avoid” problems by doing normal things which generally aid health but don’t really address menopause at all.
The process of menopause is a space of about 5 years, during which time hormones re-align ready for the next stage of life. It is useful to have a bit of a plan should symptoms become problematic – but symptoms will come to you (or not) whether you test (or not). Deciding whether you prefer to try holistic or natural approaches that aim to balance your hormones, or prescription medication which chemically add hormones to your body is a much bigger deal than testing or becoming anxious.
Surely having a plan, waiting to see how you are experiencing menopause, understanding exactly what your body is doing and why seems a much much better option.