What is postmenopause?
We have discussed menopause extensively in previous posts. What happens afterward?
Menopause is the time frame that marks the termination of a woman’s menstrual cycles. It is a normal part of aging and marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. For most women menopause usually happens between the ages of 40 and 50 years and can last about 5 years. Normally, women are deemed to have reached menopause when monthly periods have stopped for around 12 consecutive months. However, women who had their ovaries surgically removed experience “sudden menopause” no matter how old they are. Postmenopause is essentially the rest of a woman’s life after menopause has completed and can last over 30 years.
Some astonishing menopause-related stats
- The average age of menopause is 51 years, however, the age can range from 40 to 58 years.
- The average life expectancy (in the US) is 84 years and rising. Combine this with the previous stat and you can conclude that many women will spend 50% of their life as post-menopausal.
- By 2025 the number of post-menopausal women worldwide is projected to be 1.1 Billion!
- Studies show that nearly 60% of women suffer from more than one symptom of menopause. Nearly 25% of these women claim that it affects their lives in a way they must seek medical assistance e.g therapy or medication.
What actually changes during menopause?
Essentially, during menopause, the ovaries no longer produce high levels of female hormones- estrogen and progesterone (they also produce testosterone). These hormones enable control of the menstruation cycle. Estrogen also affects how the female body uses calcium and maintains cholesterol levels in the blood. Menopause can be typically divided into 3 periods:
Perimenopause or “menopause transition”- a gradual normal process which usually starts in women’s early 40’s but might start earlier. It can last as long as 8-10 years leading up to menopause. In its last stages, the drop in estrogen accelerates. Many women might experience menopause symptoms yet still have menstrual cycles and can become pregnant.
Menopause. Menopause is the point when women no longer have their menstrual periods. The ovaries have completely stopped releasing eggs and no longer produce most of their estrogen. Menopause is officially diagnosed when a woman hasn’t had a period for 12 consecutive months.
Postmenopause. The years after menopause. As written earlier in this post, many women now spend most of their lives post-menopausal.
Common postmenopause symptoms
The list of menopause common symptoms is very long, therefore, many women share different experiences about that period. Many have hot flashes, Insomnia, emotional instability, worsening of premenstrual syndrome while others suffer other types of discomfort. In most cases, these symptoms ease gradually once postmenopause begins. Truth is, many women have reported that once they became postmenopausal, they felt newly energized and experienced an improved overall feeling of well-being.
On the other hand, there are women who experience a few lingering symptoms that may last for as long as 10 years after menopause. Here is a list of the most common postmenopause symptoms:
Vaginal dryness or itching – due to the decreased production of estrogen, women’s vaginal walls become thinner and even atrophy. This causes dryness which leads to constant itching, soreness, and pain during sexual intercourse.
Vaginal discharge – this can often be a sign of vaginal atrophy much like the dryness and itching mentioned above. In some cases, it might be tinted with blood which is not necessarily a problem but if it becomes stronger and more frequent medical advice should be sought.
Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) – studies suggest that nearly 40% of postmenopause women suffer from mild to severe urinary incontinence. This loss of bladder control during physical activities such as laughing, sneezing, coughing or exercising. The Weakening of the muscles that control the bladder is related to the low levels of estrogen. This symptom which causes distress to many women can be improved to a degree with Kegel (pelvic floor) exercise and even more some with energy based vaginal treatments as the FemiLift.
Weight gain – a common phenomenon for women at this stage is an inexplicable weight gain of about 5-10 kgs.
Insomnia – Some women find it very hard to sleep regularly during first years of postmenopause.
What about sexual life?
Whether it’s due to the symptoms listed above, or just prejudice established earlier in life, some women believe they should give up on sex when they reach menopause. Loss of sex during menopause or later is not a predicament, as many women are finding out today. Moreover, remaining sexually active when older holds many health benefits, especially for women. Here are a few:
Improves blood flow and reduces stress
Strengthens the immune system
Promotes better sleep
Supports bladder control
By addressing the aforementioned troublesome symptoms and restoring your the self-confidence you are taking a huge step towards an extreme improvement to your well-being.
Treating postmenopause symptoms
Women who choose to improve their well-being by addressing these symptoms directly can usually choose between 4 approaches. Each of these approaches can help with several but probably not all symptoms together. Therefore women should consider combining and trying out at least Two of these according to their needs.
Lifestyle change— This one can be tricky. On paper, its the most obvious and safest approach but it is not always so easy to implement. It includes exercising regularly, engaging in stress-reducing activities, and keeping a well-balanced postmenopause friendly diet.
Alternative medicine— There is a wide range of treatments of course. These include hormone regulating natural herbs, massage, aromatherapy, and biofeedback.
Medication— In the past, especially in the USA there were many women who chose hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, researchers have suggested the introduction of synthetic hormones increases the risk for life-threatening conditions dramatically. These conditions include heart disease, breast and ovarian cancer, blood clots and more.
None-invasive surgical laser treatment such as the FemiLift— These are targeted specifically for issues such as vaginal dryness, urinary incontinence, and vaginal laxity. By addressing and treating these issues many women find they can rediscover and rejuvenate their sexual life, confidence, and femininity.
Where to get help?
You should always start off by meeting with a doctor, preferably a Gynecologist but a family doctor or GP can also help. We have a list of providers you can check out here.
Online communities— There are some great blogs, youtube channels and social media pages full of tips and encouragement. Here are some we find worthwhile looking into.
thetruthergirl— Youtube channel
@Letstalkv— Facebook page with excellent Dr. Live videos.
Menopause Goddess— blog – health advice and many resources by Lynette Sheppard.
The North American Menopause Society— a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting women’s health.
Menopausefacts— Malaysian organization also includes excellent podcasts with Doctors.
Our Facebook FemiLift page of course!