Menopause and Perimenopause - Topic Overview
Do you need tests to diagnose menopause?
You don't need to be tested to see if you have started perimenopause or reached menopause. You and your doctor will most likely be able to tell based on irregular periods and other symptoms.
If you have heavy, irregular periods, your doctor may want to do tests to rule out a serious cause of the bleeding. Heavy bleeding may be a normal sign of perimenopause. But it can also be caused by infection, disease, or a pregnancy problem.
You may not need to see your doctor about menopause symptoms. But it is important to keep up your annual physical exams. Your risks for heart disease, cancer, and bone thinning (osteoporosis) increase after menopause. At your yearly visits, your doctor can check your overall health and recommend testing as needed.
Do you need treatment?
Menopause is a natural part of growing older. You don't need treatment for it unless your symptoms bother you. But if your symptoms are upsetting or uncomfortable, you don't have to suffer through them. There are treatments that can help.
The first step is to have a healthy lifestyle. This can help reduce symptoms and also lower your risk of heart disease and other long-term problems related to aging.
Make a special effort to eat well. Choose a heart-healthy diet that is low in saturated fat. It should include plenty of fish, fruits, vegetables, beans, and high-fiber grains and breads.
Eat a nutritious diet and be sure you are getting adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D to help your bones stay strong. Low-fat or nonfat dairy products are a great source of calcium.
Get regular exercise.
Exercise can help you manage your weight, keep your heart and bones strong, and lift your mood.
Limit caffeine, alcohol, and stress. These things can make symptoms worse. Limiting them may help you sleep better.
If you smoke, stop. Quitting smoking can reduce hot flashes and long-term health risks.
If lifestyle changes aren't enough to relieve your symptoms, you can try other measures, such as breathing exercises and yoga.