Am I menopausal yet?

ShufeltC-CardioSMALLExpert: Chrisandra Shufelt, M.D.
Assistant Director of the Women’s Heart Center
at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute.

Dr. Shufelt is a certified menopause practitioner and a women’s health expert.

Dear Dr. Shufelt: I am 52 and there is no end in sight to my menstrual cycle. Shouldn’t I have stopped by now?

Like every woman, you should see your healthcare provider every year because annual Pap smears are important in detecting cervical cancer and yearly blood tests help keep track of your heart health. If your menstrual bleeding is prolonged or erratic, make an appointment to have yourself checked. During your period, if you are feeling lightheaded or short of breath, it could be a sign of too much bleeding, so get that checked out also.

But having regular periods at your age isn’t anything to be concerned about. In the United States, the average age for menopause is 51 for non-smokers and 50 for current and past smokers. By age 55, 95 percent of U.S. women will have reached menopause.

Still, if you want to see where you stand, ask your healthcare provider for a blood test to detect the amount of Follicle Stimulating Hormone or FSH. A rise in FSH is the first measurable sign that a woman is entering menopause.

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