Menopause is the permanent cessation of menstruation but is usually not scientifically diagnosed until one full year after a woman’s menstrual periods have stopped. The period leading up to menopause, and the 12 months following, is known as perimenopause. Many women experience symptoms during this time including hot flashes, irregular menstrual cycles, sleep disorders, vaginal dryness, hair loss, anxiety and mood swings, short-term memory loss and fatigue. The onset of perimenopause is caused by changes in the levels of hormones in the female body that regulate the menstrual cycle. As the body produces less and less estrogen, it increases its production of FSH, which normally regulates the development of a female’s eggs.Therefore, testing for FSH can help determine whether a woman is in the perimenopause stage. If a woman knows she is perimenopausal, she can take the appropriate steps to keep her body healthy and avoid the health risks associated with menopause, which include osteoporosis, increased blood pressure and cholesterol, and increased risk of heart disease.