Postmenopause


Overview of postmenopause

Menopause is a single point in time when a woman has gone 12 consecutive months without having a period. The average age at which menopause occurs in the U.S. is 51, but it can occur any time in a woman’s 40s or 50s. Once this milestone is passed, a woman no longer ovulates. 

However, that doesn’t mean the menopause process stops there. Many of the symptoms experienced in perimenopause, the years of hormonal changes leading up to menopause, continue to occur during postmenopause. 

Symptoms 

For women who are going through perimenopause, there are usually symptoms. Hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, mood swings, foggy brain, and weight gain are just a few of the issues women face. They look forward to the time when menopause occurs and they can leave those symptoms behind. 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. Many women continue to experience perimenopausal symptoms during their postmenopausal years. Often, these symptoms are milder than they were, but can still be a bother. They are the result of low estrogen levels and include: 

  • Vaginal dryness 
  • Increased cholesterol levels 
  • Urinary incontinence 
  • Hot flashes 
  • Night sweats 
  • Moodiness, irritability, depression, and anxiety 
  • Weight gain 

If you are experiencing postmenopausal symptoms, the compassionate team of gynecologists at Dignity Health is here to provide lasting care. Find a Doctor and make an appointment today.  

Causes 

The cause of postmenopause is singular and simple. It occurs when your ovaries make significantly less of the reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone, which results in the cessation of ovulation. This ultimately happens as a natural decline in these hormones over a period of years, but it can happen prematurely due to: 

  • Hysterectomy – when both the uterus and the ovaries are removed 
  • Primary ovarian insufficiency – when the ovaries do not produce enough reproductive hormones at an early age (typically younger than 40) 
  • Chemotherapy and radiation – can cause a temporary stop in menstruation 

Prevention 

There is no way to prevent the onset of postmenopause. 

Risk factors 

Every woman reaches postmenopause since it is a natural part of the aging process. 

The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.