Post menopause is defined as the time after menopause. The medical profession defines menopause as when you have not menstruated for a whole 12 months, others sometimes refer to it as the female mid life crisis. Thereafter, you remain post menopausal until the end of your life, effectively meaning, the end of periods, fertility and menopause. Some women see this as a very positive time and look forward to getting the most out of the second half of their lives. No birth control, no periods, no PMS.
We are all different so the age range when a woman becomes postmenopausal is between late 40s to early 60s with an average of 51/52 years. Women can also become postmenopausal at an earlier age due to medical intervention such as removal of her ovaries or health conditions such as stress and obesity.
What does post menopause really mean? The definitive answer is that your ovaries have formally shut down as reproductive organs – no more menstrual periods.
In most cases, at this stage, your body has become familiar with declining levels of hormones and the perimenopausal symptoms you had before actual menopause will lessen considerably and will eventually disappear.
What can you expect Post Menopause?
- Changes to the vagina (dryness, itching, pain during sex, general discomfort)
- Aches and pains in the joints
- Urinary problems (recurrent urinary tract infections, bladder incontinence)
- Hot flushes/flashes and/or night sweats
- Poor memory and/or difficulty concentrating
- Mood changes (tiredness, depression, anxiety, irritability)
You can find out more information on the above symptoms here.
Should you experience post menopausal bleeding, this may or may not be a cause for concern, however, you should consult your healthcare professional immediately.
What Causes Postmenopausal Symptoms?
A decrease in estrogen levels. When you enter puberty you produce more estrogen, however, as your reproductive years diminish so does your estrogen production. Even after menopause, women still produce a weak form of estrogen known as estrone. This is made in the fat cells and adrenal glands, so women who are slightly overweight tend to experience fewer menopausal symptoms than those who are underweight. That is not an excuse to accept middle-aged spread, but if your are struggling with a ‘few’ stubborn extra pounds it may be as well to accept them. Any more than a few extra pounds and your are putting yourself in the firing line for other weight related conditions such as Type 2 diabetes.
A decrease in progesterone close to zero. Progesterone is one of the primary hormones needed for your reproductive years. Progesterone plays an important role in ovulation, but drops to almost zero when you are no longer ovulating.
Testosterone. Although primarily the male sex hormone, it appears in women in small amounts and helps to create a stronger interest in sexual activity around the time of ovulation. In postmenopausal women testosterone does not decrease as much as estrogen and progesterone – resulting in testosterone levels being higher than the female sex hormones – this can sometimes lead to women having a deeper voice or noticeable facial hair. Female testosterone is also important for maintaining sex drive, energy and bone and muscle strength.
Post Menopause Treatment
Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol intake.
Reduce stress levels. Stress can worsen postmenopausal symptoms such as weight gain, insomnia and high blood pressure.
Take regular exercise.
Eat a diet rich in essential vitamins and nutrients. Foods high in estrogen are whole grains, fruits, legumes, potatoes and yams, nuts, soy.
Maintain a healthy weight. The most noticeable weight gain for a woman is during perimenopause. During postmenopause you can lose weight or maintain your healthy weight by paying attention to healthy eating and regular exercise and not becoming contented and leading a sedentary lifestyle which will effectively keep any weight gain in place and make it harder to shift.
It’s never too late to stop smoking!
Take women’s supplements to avoid any nutritional gaps in your diet.
Hypnosis, acupuncture, aromatherapy and massage can help to relieve some post menopausal symptoms.
Herbal remedies, natural menopause relief.
Some women will find that a combination of maintaining a healthy lifestyle together with alternative treatments will work well for them, others will find that they need to seek advice from their healthcare professional regarding forms of HRT.
Bone Density Screening
This test measures the levels of calcium in your bones to determine whether or not you have osteoporosis – a condition related to post menopause.
Add foods rich in Vitamin D and calcium to your diet to help strengthen your bones.
Spend 5-30 minutes in the sun a few times each week to help your body to produce vitamin D, or take a supplement if getting out in the sun is not an option.
Regular weight bearing exercise such as walking, swimming, weight lifting..
Control you blood pressure and cholesterol.
The risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases with age, obesity being the main risk factor.
Maintain a healthy weight.
If you have diabetes, ensure that your blood sugars remain within a healthy range and follow the guidance you received at the time of diagnosis.
Make sure that you have regular mammograms and any other screenings recommended.
The Second Half of Your Life
Reaching menopause is a natural time for women to take stock of their lives and their lifestyle. It’s time to ask yourself if you are headed in the direction you want to g0, both personally and professionally. Many postmenopausal women report feeling empowered and more confident as after 50+ years of life experiences you are more likely to be able to handle whatever comes your way. Bonding with other menopausal women is a great coping strategy. Relax in the knowledge that any lingering unwelcome symptoms will not last forever. So, if there’s something you’ve been putting on hold – now is the time to take chances…
Your Health in Postmenopause. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/health-after-menopause#1
Peeke, P. M., MD. MPH. Menopause and Your Changing Body. Retrieved from http://www.healthywomen.org/content/article/menopause-and-your-changing-body?context=ages-and-stages/36
How Can I Stay Healthy After Menopause? Retrieved from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/menopause#healthy
Menopause: the facts. Retrieved from http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/menopause/Pages/Menopauseoverview.aspx
Post Menopause. Retrieved from http://www.menopausecentre.com.au/Symptoms-postmenopause-menopause