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COVID-19 ushered in a rise in at-home medical testing, and now, more of these tests than ever are available over the counter. One of the newest is the at-home menopause test. Typically designed to measure hormone levels associated with menopause, it offers convenience and privacy but prompts concerns about accuracy and interpretation.

While these tests may claim high accuracy rates, variations in hormone levels, bodily differences, and the potential for user error can impact the reliability of results. "Women's hormones can fluctuate every day," said Dr. Payal Shah, the Director of OB/GYN at Holy Name Medical Center. "You may test one day and the test will indicate you are in a menopause stage, and then test another day and not get the same result. That’s because these kits only measure hormonal levels at the time the test was taken."

At-home menopause tests measure follicle-stimulating hormone levels (FSH). During menopause, FSH levels increase. However, determining a “normal” range for FSH levels is challenging. Misinterpreting test results without guidance from a physician may lead to unnecessary anxiety or inappropriate self-management strategies.

While at-home tests provide a snapshot of a woman’s hormonal levels, they do not answer other questions you may have for your gynecologist. Gynecologists offer comprehensive care beyond menopause diagnosis, including personalized treatment plans, symptom management, and screenings for related health conditions such as osteoporosis and heart disease.

Dr. Shah says women should also consider why they want to use an at-home test kit: "Are you experiencing missed periods, irregular bleeding, or night sweats? These are all reasons to talk to your OB/GYN to determine other underlying conditions."

What's more, at-home tests may not be able to determine where you are in the menopause journey. Before reaching menopause – which is defined as not having periods for 12 consecutive cycles – women can experience varying windows of irregular bleeding in the perimenopause stage, which can sometimes last years.

At-home menopause tests offer convenience and accessibility but raise important considerations regarding accuracy, interpretation, and comprehensive healthcare.

If you have questions about menopause or are experiencing any symptoms you’re confused about, speak with an OB-GYN. These conversations can help you make informed decisions about your health during the menopause transition.

If you have questions or would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Payal Shah, please contact her at (201) 907-0900.