New York Times Life/Style – Test set for menopause Home pregnancy test maker Clearblue is now on store shelves across the United States. The company says the test, which became available in August, helps women determine which stage they are in during the period leading up to menopause. Last week, at a meeting of the nonprofit Menopause Society, the company presented data from a study it funded, suggesting the test could detect hormone levels and other indicators associated with life stage.
Lucy Broadbent, head of scientific and medical affairs at Clearblue, said the one-year transition to menopause is often “shrouded in mystery”, and the trial aims to remove some of this confusion.
Despite the study findings, some experts question the accuracy of home testing, especially for premenopausal women when “hormones are everywhere,” said Dr. Ekta Kapoor, associate director of the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Women’s Health. A snapshot of hormone levels at one point in time can look very different from a snapshot just a few weeks later, making test results difficult to understand.
However, the kit could end up being used as a physical activity monitor, simply providing women with additional data, says Dr. Nanette Santoro, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She added that this can be especially helpful in the early stages of menopause, when women “don’t get a lot of validation” from doctors, providing some reassurance that they’re not just imagining the changes they’re experiencing.
The test, which costs $20 to $30 and is similar to a typical home pregnancy test, requires five urine samples over 10 days. It is designed to detect high levels of follicle-stimulating hormone, which is associated with the transition to menopause. During a regular menstrual cycle, FSH rises each month before ovulation, which helps stimulate the follicle to release an egg, and then falls, Kapoor said. As menopause approaches, the rises and falls of FSH become more regular, she said.
Broadbent said the test is based on a widely used tool to assess the transition to menopause, known as the Stages of Reproductive Aging Workshop (STRAW), which takes into account FSH levels among a host of other factors.
Other available FSH tests, which are often marketed for fertility monitoring but can also be used to detect signs of menopause, measure levels once at the beginning of the menstrual cycle. Clearblue said that because its test lasts for 10 days, women can use the kit at any time during their cycle; However, it is not suitable for those who use hormonal contraception or who suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome.
Test users must enter the results of each sample (positive or negative) into the Clearblue app, which also tracks symptoms. The app uses FSH levels, age, history, and length of the menstrual cycle to determine the menopausal transition a user may be in — from premenopause, which is the early stages of the transition, to postmenopause, after a woman has not menstruated for a period of one year. .
In the Clearblue-funded study, 108 women between the ages of 45 and 60 underwent the five-test regimen over multiple menstrual cycles. The researchers found that the more they reached menopause, the more likely they were to have more than one positive test in five.
“The most useful way to know how close you are to menopause, epidemiologically, is to actually look at your menstrual history,” Santoro said. “When a woman is over 47 years old and has gone more than 60 days without menstruating and was previously regular, it is very likely that she will enter menopause within a few years.
At Kapoor’s clinic, when patients ask for blood tests and FSH tests, “I’m more likely to decline that than to recommend it,” she said, because if a woman’s menstrual history suggests she may be in menopause, regardless of the reason. FSH results say that options for managing symptoms such as hormone therapy do not change.
Some experts said there may be some cases where test results can provide useful information for both patients and doctors, such as in the case of women who enter menopause prematurely, said Dr. Mary Dolan, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the college. Medicine at Emory University. She added that women who underwent a hysterectomy with intact ovaries and no longer have menstrual cycles to monitor for irregularities may also benefit from knowing their FSH levels.
Broadbent said the test “is not intended to replace the care she would get from her doctor.”
She added: “Our advice is to talk to your doctor to confirm whether you are menopausal or to discuss next steps.” The app creates a PDF file containing the results and a summary of symptoms that users can share with their doctors.
Dolan, who has seen women struggle for years to get the help they need for menopause, said there is a clear benefit to giving “women more power over their health.” / Translated by Livia Belloni Gonçalves
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