The different stages of a woman’s menstrual cycle come with their own set of symptoms and challenges. Menopause is the stage that marks the end of fertility for a woman and is accompanied by low estrogen levels and symptoms like hot flashes and mood swings.
As a consequence, women may experience a range of symptoms, some of which may require medical interventions. Therefore, identifying when you have hit this stage and addressing underlying symptoms is essential.
What Is The Postmenopausal Stage?
Your body enters the postmenopausal stage 12 months after your last menstrual period. At this point, your ovaries stop producing eggs, your estrogen levels drop, and you are no longer fertile. However, protection during sex is still advised to avoid sexually transmitted infections.
If you have not had a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months, it means that you have hit menopause and entered the next stage of postmenopause. Your doctor can further confirm this by analyzing your symptoms and running a blood test to check your hormone levels.
For some women, the common symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and mood swings may lessen in intensity during this stage. However, you may experience a new set of post menopause symptoms at age 60 and beyond.
Fortunately, most of these symptoms can be managed with the help of lifestyle changes or medical treatments if necessary. Phytoestrogen-rich foods and regular exercise can help to reduce your symptoms. Additionally, your doctor may prescribe hormone therapy for severe symptoms.
The Different Stages Of Menopause
Menopause can be classified into three different stages as per the changes occurring in the body. These stages are perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. Here is how each stage of menopause is differentiated from the others.
Perimenopause is the transitional stage between the fertile stage and menopause. During this stage, the production of hormones starts to decline, and the menstrual cycles may become irregular or erratic. Furthermore, some women may experience symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Perimenopause may start at a different age for each woman, but most women experience it in their 40s, while some may begin to experience symptoms in their mid-30s.
Menopause is the stage when the body stops ovulating and is no longer fertile. It is marked by a significant decline in estrogen and is accompanied by symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, anxiety, and night sweats. If you do not have your menstrual period for 12 consecutive months, your doctor will confirm that you have hit menopause based on your symptoms and hormone levels. After this, you may begin to experience post menopause symptoms.
If you do not get your menstrual periods for 12 months straight, the postmenopausal stage begins. It is the stage that comes after menopause and lasts for the rest of your life. While your menopausal symptoms may reduce in intensity, you might be at a higher risk of illnesses like heart disease and osteoporosis during this stage.
What Is The Duration Of Postmenopause?
Once you enter the postmenopausal stage, this is the state that your body will remain in for the rest of your life. It means that you will stop menstruating and producing eggs and hence, cease to be fertile. Moreover, the low levels of estrogen accompanying this stage can increase your risk for bone issues, cardiovascular disease, and vaginal dryness.
Essentially, this stage is what signals the end of menopause. It may occur at different ages for different women but usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55.
After this, your hormonal levels will remain low, and you will not experience menstrual cycles. Therefore, you may continue to experience post menopause symptoms at age 60 and beyond.
What Are The Hormonal Changes Accompanying Menopause?
Since menopause marks the end of the fertile stage for a woman’s body, the ovaries stop producing eggs during this stage. As a consequence, the production of estrogen and progesterone by the ovaries goes down. Due to the declined levels of these hormones, women may experience vaginal dryness, depression, or hot flashes. These symptoms peak during menopause and may be replaced by post menopause symptoms like reduced bone strength afterward.
According to studies, hormone replacement therapy may be prescribed to women facing severe symptoms due to decreased hormone levels during and after menopause. Hormone therapy may reduce the risk of osteoporosis and colorectal cancer after menopause. However, it may increase the risk of stroke, breast cancer, and other complications if administered for more than 5 years. Your doctor will evaluate whether this therapy is safe for you based on your symptoms and medical history.
The Common Symptoms Of Postmenopause
1. Vaginal Dryness
Vaginal dryness is one of the common post menopause symptoms. The low estrogen levels in the body can be the reason for the same. Due to vaginal dryness, you may experience pain during sex, which may result in lower sex drive than before. To address this, you can try water-based lubricants during sexual intercourse.
2. Hot Flashes
Hot flashes are a prevalent symptom of menopause, but some women may experience them during the postmenopausal stage as well. When the estrogen levels in the body drop, they impact the response of the body to temperature changes. It results in sudden flashes of heat, often followed by chills. You may also experience night sweats due to this symptom.
3. Urinary Incontinence
Postmenopause may also impact your urinary bladder control. The lower levels of estrogen may cause thinning of the urethra lining. Weakened pelvic muscles due to childbirth or aging can lead to urinary incontinence. Additionally, it may also increase the risk of urinary tract infections.
4. Declining Bone Strength
What signals the end of menopause is also accompanied by bone loss. A drop in estrogen levels is directly responsible for this phenomenon. Therefore, many women experience brittle and weak bones after menopause.
What Causes The Postmenopausal Stage?
Postmenopause is a natural stage in every woman’s life. As you grow older, you eventually hit an age when your fertile stage ends. Therefore, you will eventually stop menstruating, and the estrogen and progesterone levels in your body will drop. It will be accompanied by symptoms caused by hormonal Imbalance.
This phase of life is what signals the end of menopause and is completely natural. Most women will experience this stage between the ages of 45 to 55. Some women may also experience early menopause due to a hysterectomy, premature ovarian failure, or lifestyle factors like smoking.
What Is The Reason Behind Postmenopausal Bleeding?
Postmenopause is the stage when your body stops menstruating. Therefore, any vaginal bleeding after menopause is not considered normal and must be evaluated by a healthcare professional.
Bleeding after menopause is not a consequence of lowered estrogen levels and is not one of the common post menopause symptoms. However, it may occur due to vaginal dryness, which may cause bleeding or spotting after sex.
Alternatively, it could be caused by underlying infections like endometriosis and conditions like uterine fibroids or endometrial hyperplasia. In some cases, it may also occur due to cancer. Therefore, you must seek medical advice if you notice vaginal bleeding after menopause.
At What Age Does Postmenopause Happen?
There is no fixed age for menopause, and it may occur between the ages of 45 and 55 for most women. However, some women may experience early menopause due to factors like a hysterectomy or smoking. Similarly, other women may experience menopause at a later age. Post menopause is what signals the end of menopause and happens 12 months after your last period. Therefore, it is dependent on the age at which you hit menopause.
How Does Menopause Impact The Body?
Studies have investigated the different ways in which menopause impacts the body. The lower estrogen levels can have an impact on different systems of the body. Here is an overview of the common effects of menopause:
- Cardiovascular System – Lower estrogen levels may cause the thinning of the inner layer of the artery walls, which are responsible for regulating blood flow. Therefore, postmenopause symptoms at age 60 include a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Skeletal System – Low estrogen levels are also responsible for bone loss. Hence, postmenopause may cause osteoporosis, a condition marked by weak and brittle bones.
- Metabolism – Postmenopausal syndrome, along with aging, may be responsible for weight gain in women. These factors may reduce your metabolism, which means that your body may start storing more fat rather than burning it for energy.
- Sexuality – Postmenopause may also reduce your sex drive because of vaginal dryness. Low estrogen levels cause dryness in the vagina, which can make sexual intercourse uncomfortable or painful.
- Urinary System – One of the common post menopause symptoms at age 60 is urinary incontinence. It happens because lower estrogen levels can cause the thinning of the urethra lining, impacting bladder control. It may also increase your risk of urinary tract infections.
- Mental Health – Hormonal changes accompanying the postmenopausal stage may cause depression and mood swings in some women.
What Are The Treatments For Postmenopausal Bleeding?
Cessation of menstrual cycles for 12 months is what signals the end of menopause. Therefore, bleeding after menopause is abnormal and requires medical investigation. You may notice some spotting after sex due to vaginal dryness. However, bleeding can also be caused by underlying infections or health conditions. Depending on the root cause of the bleeding, your doctor may recommend the following treatments:
- Cervical Polyps – Removal by a specialist
- A Side Effect Of Hormone Replacement Therapy – Stopping the HRT Therapy
- Endometrial Hyperplasia – No treatment, medication, or total hysterectomy, depending on your symptoms
- Vaginal Or Endometrial Atrophy – No treatment or an estrogen cream, depending on your symptoms
- Womb Or Ovarian Cancer – Total hysterectomy
FAQs About Postmenopause
Menopause is the stage at which you stop menstruating, while postmenopause is the stage after menopause. It occurs 12 months after your last menstrual period and lasts till the end of life.
Once you enter the postmenopausal phase, it will last for the rest of your life. Your estrogen levels will remain low, and your body won’t produce eggs. Therefore, you cannot get pregnant anymore.
Post menopausal symptoms may vary slightly from menopausal symptoms. You may experience lesser hot flashes and night sweats. However, you may have to deal with decreased bone strength, depression, vaginal dryness, and urinary incontinence.
Yes, women may experience menopausal or post menopause symptoms at age 60. For some women, the severity of symptoms may decline over 5 to 10 years after menopause.
If you do not get a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months, you have hit menopause and have entered the postmenopausal stage. Your doctor may further confirm this by evaluating your symptoms and hormone levels.
Most women hit menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, and the period after this is termed post menopause. This stage starts 12 months after your last menstrual cycle.
Some of the post menopause symptoms at age 60 or whenever you enter this phase include vaginal dryness, hot flashes, mood swings or depression, osteoporosis, urinary incontinence, and low metabolism. You may seek medical advice if your symptoms are severe and hamper your quality of life.
Postmenopause is a natural stage in every woman’s life. It occurs 12 months after your last menstrual cycle, making it the final stage after hitting menopause. During this stage, your body stops producing eggs and is no longer fertile. As a result, your estrogen levels remain low, which can cause symptoms like vaginal dryness, osteoporosis, hot flashes, depression, and urinary incontinence.
By being aware of what this stage may entail for you healthwise, you can be better prepared for the postmenopausal phase. So, do not get stressed about hitting menopause. Instead, try to prepare for your symptoms and seek treatment if needed to make this phase of your life comfortable.