Signs, symptoms, and what to expect

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What is menopause?

Postmenopause is a term to describe the time after someone has gone through menopause. When you are postmenopausal, your menstrual period is over 12 months in a row. At this point in life, your childbearing years are late and you are no longer ovulating (releasing eggs). Menopause symptoms you’ve had in the past may become milder or disappear completely. However, some people continue to experience menopausal symptoms for a decade or more after menopause.

There are three phases of menopause: menopause, menopause, and postmenopause.

  • Pre-menopausal period It is the time before menopause. Describes the time when hormones begin to decline and menstrual cycles become irregular and irregular. You may start to feel menopausal side effects, such as hot flashes or vaginal dryness.
  • menopause It occurs when you stop releasing the hormones that cause menstruation and your period has passed for 12 months in a row. Once this happens, you enter post-menopause.
  • After menopause It is the time after menopause occurs. Once that happens, you will be in post-menopause for the rest of your life. Postmenopausal people are at an increased risk of developing certain health conditions, such as osteoporosis and heart disease.

How long is menopause?

Once you enter menopause, you will be in this stage for the rest of your life. Your hormone levels will remain low and you will not have a monthly period. You cannot get pregnant because your ovaries have stopped releasing eggs.

What hormonal changes that occur after menopause?

Your ovaries produce very little of both estrogen and progesterone by the time you’re postmenopausal. Some people still experience side effects from low hormone levels.

At what age do you consider menopause?

There is no age at which you are automatically postmenopausal. Once you have missed your period for more than a year, you are postmenopausal regardless of age. On average, people go through menopause at around 51 years old.

Symptoms and causes

What are the symptoms of menopause?

Most postmenopausal women feel lingering symptoms of menopause. Symptoms are less severe. In some cases, they almost disappear. Chronic symptoms are caused by low levels of reproductive hormones.

Postmenopausal people can feel symptoms such as:

If your symptoms become more severe or interfere with your daily life, speak with your healthcare provider. They may want to rule out any underlying condition causing these symptoms.

What causes postmenopausal bleeding?

Vaginal bleeding during postmenopause is not a normal side effect of low hormone levels. In some cases, dryness in the vagina may cause light bleeding or spotting after intercourse. In other cases, it can indicate a condition such as endometrial hyperplasia or uterine fibroids, infections such as endometriosis, or cancer. Call your healthcare provider if you have any vaginal bleeding so that you can be evaluated.

Will hot flashes stop after menopause?

Some women still experience hot flashes after menopause. Hot flashes occur after menopause due to low estrogen levels. It is not uncommon to experience random hot flashes for years after menopause. If hot flashes are bothersome or severe, talk with your healthcare provider to rule out other causes.

Diagnostics and tests

How do you know that you are in the post-menopausal stage?

Your health care provider will be able to tell you if you’re postmenopausal based on your symptoms and how long it’s been since your last period. In some cases, your health care provider will take a blood sample and check your hormone levels to confirm that you have experienced menopause. Remember, you’re not considered menopausal until more than a year after your period.

Management and treatment

What medications are used to treat postmenopausal symptoms?

Hormone therapy may be an option, although health care providers often recommend short-term use and in people under age 60. There are health risks associated with hormone therapy such as blood clots and stroke. Some health care providers do not recommend using hormone therapy after menopause or if you have certain medical conditions.

Some of the medications your healthcare provider may consider to help treat postmenopausal symptoms are:

  • Antidepressants for mood swings or depression.
  • Vaginal creams for intercourse-related pain and vaginal dryness.
  • Gabapentin (Neurontin®) for relief of hot flashes.

Oftentimes, your provider will recommend lifestyle changes to help manage symptoms.

How do I control postmenopausal symptoms on my own?

Some lifestyle or at-home changes can help you manage postmenopausal symptoms. Some of these include:

  • Use a watery vaginal lubricant during sex to make it more enjoyable. Moisturizing the vagina helps with dryness and pain.
  • Regular exercise, meditation, and other relaxation activities can help treat depression and other side effects after menopause.
  • Follow a diet rich in plant estrogens (sources of plant estrogens) such as whole grains, flaxseeds, chickpeas, and legumes. It has also been shown that reducing caffeine and alcohol intake helps.

protection

Are there any health risks associated with post menopause?

Postmenopausal people are at increased risk for several conditions:

Cardiovascular disease

Estrogen helps protect against cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, heart disease and stroke. It is also common for postmenopausal people to become more lethargic, which contributes to high cholesterol and high blood pressure. These factors combined can increase a woman’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease after menopause. Eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and getting regular exercise are your best options for preventing heart disease. Treating high blood pressure and diabetes as well as maintaining cholesterol levels are also ways to reduce your risk.

Osteoporosis

People lose bone more quickly after menopause due to lower estrogen levels. You may lose up to 25% of your bone density after menopause (about 1% to 2% per year). When too much bone is lost, it increases the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. The bones of the hip, wrist, and spine are most commonly affected. A bone mineral density test, also called a bone densitometry, may be done to see how much calcium is in certain parts of your bones. The test is used to detect osteoporosis and osteoporosis, a precursor to osteoporosis.

Vaginal atrophy

Low estrogen levels cause the tissues in the vagina to thin and deteriorate, making the vagina dry. Postmenopausal women may experience vaginal dryness for years after their last period. Using vaginal lubricants can help relieve any discomfort caused by sex. Low estrogen levels can also affect the urinary tract and bladder and make urine leakage a problem for some people. Persistent dryness and painful intercourse should be evaluated by your healthcare provider to rule out other conditions. Using moisturizers and topical creams or getting laser treatment for the vagina can help treat vaginal dryness.

mental health issues

Many postmenopausal people experience mood swings, anxiety, and depression. This could be caused by stress, sexual tension, or other life challenges that occur during this time. Some people feel sad that their childbearing years are over. Mood symptoms can also be caused by low hormone levels. It may help to talk with a therapist or counselor about how you are feeling.

What can I do to prevent osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis cannot be completely prevented, but you can take steps to strengthen your bones. Eating calcium-rich foods such as cheese, yogurt, spinach or fortified cereals can help increase your calcium intake. Adding calcium supplements can also help. Some people also need a vitamin D supplement because it helps their bodies absorb calcium.

What can I do to prevent cardiovascular disease after menopause?

The best ways to prevent cardiovascular disease are to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking. Conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity are often associated with poor diets and lack of physical activity.

Expectations / Prognosis

Can you get pregnant after menopause?

Once you have had your period for more than a year, you are not likely to get pregnant. Until your health care provider confirms that you are no longer ovulating and can’t get pregnant, continue to use birth control if you don’t want to get pregnant.

Do menopausal people lose interest in sex?

No, not all people lose interest in sex after menopause. Vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex can make sex less enjoyable. Using vaginal lubricants can help treat dryness. Some people are less interested in sex because of other symptoms such as depression or feeling tired. If your feelings about sex change, ask your health care provider for help.

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How often do I need to see my doctor after menopause?

You should still see your health care provider for routine gynecological care even if you haven’t had your period. This includes Pap tests, pelvic exams, breast exams, and mammograms. You should continue to schedule annual wellness appointments. Because you’re at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis, providers usually recommend bone density scans as well. Talk to your health care provider to determine how often you should schedule screenings based on your health history.

When should I contact my doctor?

If any of your postmenopausal symptoms are bothering you or preventing you from living your daily life, contact your health care provider to discuss possible treatment. They can confirm that you have completed menopause and that you are postmenopausal.

Some of the questions you might ask are:

  • Are these symptoms normal for postmenopausal people?
  • Is there a cure for my symptoms?
  • Is hormonal therapy still an option?
  • What can I do to feel better?

If you experience any vaginal bleeding during postmenopause, contact your healthcare provider to rule out a serious medical condition.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you feel after menopause?

Some women continue to experience menopausal symptoms for years after their last period. It’s common to have hot flashes or feel depressed with age. Talk with your healthcare provider if you continue to have symptoms so they can provide support or treatment.

How do I stay healthy after menopause?

It’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, especially as you age and your risk of certain medical conditions increases. Some of the ways postmenopausal people can stay healthy include:

  • Exercise regularly. Walking, yoga or strength training can help reduce the risk of many medical conditions.
  • Weight-bearing exercises can strengthen your bones and muscles.
  • Follow a healthy diet. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains should make up the bulk of your diet. Avoid too much salt or sugar and reduce your alcohol consumption.

A note from the Cleveland Clinic

Menopause can be annoying and presents new challenges and health concerns. Talk to your healthcare provider about any symptoms you’re experiencing or questions you have. They can help make sure you get support during this time and get the care you need.

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