Q: Is the Drama Over yet?
It is a sad state of affairs, but often women fear, or become anxious about, life during and after menopause. Perimenopause, which is the hormonally-charged period of time leading up to your last menstrual cycle, can be a trying time for any woman as she tries to cope with the changes in her body and the tiresome side effects that come as a result of these changes. It is no surprise that the thought of entering this inevitable stage of life might fill you with dread. However, you will be relieved to hear that menopause will arrive at some point, and put an end to your monthly cycle and menopause symptoms.
But what comes next? Is there a need to worry about that stage, too? Here we answer some of your common questions about life after menopause, the stage commonly known as postmenopause.
Q: What is Postmenopause?
Postmenopause is the stage that a woman enters after passing through perimenopause and menopause. Menopause actually only refers to the moment when 12 consecutive months have passed since your last period, while perimenopause refers to the years of hormonal fluctuations leading up to this moment, in which most women still bleed irregularly and suffer from other menopausal symptoms. Postmenopause is a permanent state of infertility that lasts for the rest of a woman's life, beginning 12 months after her final period.
Q: How do I Know When I Have Reached Postmenopause?
There is no physical sign that will tell you that you have entered into postmenopause, other than making a note of every period you have so that you can see when you have not bled for 12 consecutive months. This will indicate that menopause has occurred, and that you are now in postmenopause.
The age at which you reach menopause, and the length of time you experience perimenopause, is unique to you. You are bound to reach postmenopause at a different time to other women you know, because the perimenopause stage varies in length for every woman.
Q: What Happens to my Hormones during this Stage?
During perimenopause, the production of estrogen and progesterone gradually decreases as your body prepares to shut down its reproductive facilities. During this time, the production of these sex hormones fluctuates, disturbing the natural equilibrium in your body. This manifests itself in menopause symptoms such as irregular periods. Your hormone levels will eventually decline to the extent that ovulation ceases, and menopause is declared after 12 months of no ovulation or menstruation. During postmenopause, your estrogen and progesterone levels remain low, while testosterone levels keep declining gradually.
Q: Will I Still Suffer from Menopause Symptoms?
The good news is that most of the unpleasant symptoms that you have been dealing with previously will begin to fade in postmenopause. Unfortunately, the bad news is that some menopause symptoms will linger.
Hot flashes are often known to affect postmenopausal women because the body is still adjusting to the hormonal changes, and with hot flashes come irritability, dizziness, headaches and fatigue, so you may suffer from these, too. Vaginal dryness is another symptom that might remain, but lubrications and creams can relieve these symptoms almost immediately. Vaginal bleeding can also occur during postmenopause, and if it does then you should visit a doctor to find out its cause.
In general, life after menopause will be more comfortable without the majority of menopause symptoms, but be aware that you are at a higher risk for more serious conditions, like osteoporosis, arthritis, and breast and uterine cancer, so you should always seek healthcare advice if you notice any unusual.
More Information about Postmenopause:
Menopause and its various stages are complex, and it is often difficult for women to distinguish between them all. To find out more about postmenopause and other stages in a woman's reproductive life, click on the following link:
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How Do Hormone Levels Change Post Menopause?
Why Does Bleeding Occur In Post-Menopause?