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Menopause (cont.)

How is menopause diagnosed?

Blood testing: To determine if a woman is in the perimenopause, a health-care professional may check the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) level through a blood test.

Bone testing: The standard for measuring bone loss, or osteoporosis, associated with menopause is the DEXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan. The test calculates bone mineral density and compares it to the average value for healthy young women. The World Health Organization defines osteoporosis as more than 2.5 standard deviations below this average value. A condition known as osteopenia indicates less severe bone loss (between 1 and 2.5 standard deviations below the average value).

  • The DEXA scan is usually performed before a doctor prescribes medications for osteoporosis to rebuild bone mineral density. The test is a special X-ray film taken of the hip and of the lower bones in the spine. The scan is repeated in one and a half to two years to measure response to treatment.
  • Simple bone screening can also be done in ultrasound machines that measure the bone density of the heel. This is merely a screening device. If low bone density is detected, follow-up with a complete DEXA scan may be required.

Heart risk testing: Postmenopausal women may be at risk for heart disease. A doctor can measure cholesterol levels with a simple blood test. If cholesterol levels are high, the doctor can advise women about ways to decrease their risk of heart disease.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/8/2016

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