The average woman will spend 8 years in menopause spread out over three main stages: perimenopause, menopause, and lastly, postmenopause. Most women will go into natural menopause midlife as the common ages of menopause are 40 - 58, with about one percent of women will experience premature menopause.
Postmenopause refers to the period of time after menopause has occurred and brings your monthly cycle and reporductive stage of life to an end. It is marked by the absence of menstrual periods for at least 12 consecutive months.
During postmenopause, your reproductive hormone levels remain very low and you menstrual cycles have come to an end. Many of the menopause symptoms may diminish or disappear altogether once you are postmenopausal. However, it's important to note that some women may continue to experience certain menopausal symptoms, and new ones may arise. Here are some common signs and symptoms that women may experience during postmenopause:
1. Hot flashes/Hot flushes: Although hot flashes tend to decrease in frequency and intensity after menopause, some women may still experience them during postmenopause.
2. Night sweats: Similar to hot flashes, night sweats may persist for some women during postmenopause.
3. Vaginal dryness: This symptom may continue or become more pronounced during postmenopause, leading to discomfort during intercourse. Vaginal dryness is linked to a persons estrogen levels which is why it can often continue after menopause.
4. Changes in sexual function: Some women may experience changes in libido, reduced sexual desire, or changes in orgasmic response.
5. Mood changes: While mood swings and irritability are commonly associated with perimenopause and menopause, some women may continue to experience these changes during postmenopause.
6. Sleep disturbances: Insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns may persist for some women during postmenopause.
7. Bone loss: Postmenopause is a time when bone density loss can accelerate, leading to an increased risk of osteoporosis. Regular exercise, a calcium-rich and healthy diet, and appropriate supplements can help maintain bone health.
8. Urinary changes: Some women may experience an increased risk of urinary incontinence or urinary tract infections during postmenopause.
9. Skin and hair changes: Dry skin, thinning hair, and changes in hair texture may occur during postmenopause.
10. Weight changes: Many women may notice changes in body composition and weight gain or distribution during postmenopause, with a tendency to gain weight around the abdomen.
The only way to know if you have made it through you menopausal transition into postmenopause is to get checked by one of you healthcare providers. They will make their final diagnosis based on your physical symptoms and when your last period occurred. Until this diagnosis has been made, it is important to continue your birth control, if applicable, if you do not intend on becoming pregnant.
How can you manage these symptoms?
Leading a healthy lifestyle, getting enough physical activity, eating nutrient dense food, is one of the best ways to manage the physical symptoms that come along during your menopause transition. If your symptoms become a disrutption to your daily life, speak with your GP to seek medical advice.
Your risk for certain medical conditions increases as a postmenopausal women. Cardiovascular disease is one of the main health issues experienced after your menopausal transition and is often due to a lack of estrogen. A drop in estrogen levels correlates to an increase in risk for heart disease, heart attack, and heart failure. In some cases, healthcare providers will recommended for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) as a way to increase estrogen levels. Menopausal hormone therapy can also help post-menopausal women manage the symptoms of menopause they may still be experiencing.
As you exit the reproductive stage in life, it is still a good idea to keep getting your routine gyneacolgical checkups inclusing pelvic exams, mammograms, and breast exams. It's important to remember that every woman's experience with postmenopause is unique, and individual symptoms can vary. If you have concerns or experience symptoms that are affecting your quality of life, it's recommended to consult with a healthcare provider for proper evaluation and guidance. If you have any further concerns or questions, be sure to speak with your GP or Fertifa Patient Advisor 💜