Let the truth be told, women are much better than men about screening tests, office visits to the doctor, and taking their medications than their male counterparts. Let me review tests that women should do after menopause.
If a middle age woman hasn’t had a menstrual period for a year, she’s probably a member of the menopause club. Of course, there are other causes of absent periods but menopause is the most common in middle age women
Blood Tests Every Woman Should Have
If you’re still menstruating, your hormone panel (blood test) should be done during the first three days of your period. It can test for the following hormones:
- DHEAS (DHEA sulfate) – a hormone that easily converts into other hormones, including estrogen and testosterone
- Estradiol- the main type of estrogen produced in the body, secreted by the ovaries. If yours is low it can cause memory lapses, anxiety, depression, uncontrollable bursts of anger, sleeplessness, night sweats and more.
- Testosterone – Free testosterone is unbound and metabolically active, and total testosterone includes both free and bound testosterone. Your ovaries’ production of testosterone maintains a healthy libido, strong bones, muscle mass and mental stability.
- Progesterone- If yours is low it can cause irritability, breast swelling and tenderness, mood swings, “fuzzy thinking,” sleeplessness, water retention, PMS and weight gain.
- TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) – If yours is irregular, you may need to have your Total T3 and Free T4 checked as well.
If you’re already in the midst of perimenopause or menopause, here are other important tests to consider:
This test, also called a bone scan or DEXA scan, can reveal whether you have osteopenia or osteoporosis. When you enter perimenopause and menopause, the drop in estrogen can do a number on your bone mass. Don’t worry; the scan is quick and exposes you to very little radiation.
Cancer Marker for Ovarian Cancer
CA-125 (cancer antigen 125) is a protein best known as a blood marker for ovarian cancer. It may be elevated with other malignant cancers, including those originating in the endometrium, fallopian tubes, lungs, breasts and gastrointestinal tract. If your test comes back positive, don’t panic; this test is notorious for producing false positives!
Like your moods, cholesterol levels change in perimenopause and menopause. An excess of cholesterol can build up artery plaque, narrowing blood vessels and potentially causing a heart attack. A cholesterol panel usually includes checking your HDL (high-density lipoprotein or the good cholesterol), LDL (low-density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol) and triglycerides (molecules of fatty acids). You’ll need to fast for 12 hours before this test (a perfect time to step on the scale!).
This vitamin helps maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus, keeping your bones strong.
And one more suggestion…
Even during and following menopause, women still need to conduct a monthly breast self-exam and your annual mammogram. Woman should also schedule an annual checkup with a primary care physician, and an annual pelvic exam with your gynecologist.
Women and men also need to schedule a colonoscopy, according to the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons.
Bottom Line: Remember that when you’re in perimenopause and menopause, it’s important to not only focus on “down there,” but on your body as a whole. That includes your mental and emotional health as well.
For more information on “down there”, I recommend my book, What’s Going On Down There- Improve Your Pelvic Health, available from Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Whats-Going-Down-There-Siddighi/dp/1477140220/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1442165577&sr=8-13&keywords=What%27s+Going+On+Down+There)