Have you gone an entire year without a period after menopause? Well, come on over and get a great big virtual hug from me because you made it. You get to experience life after menopause! Think of this as your body’s last hurrah of hormonal changes. You’ve conquered every hormonal hoedown: Puberty? Check. Menopause? Check. Now you’re about to embark on another amazing journey: Postmenopause, AKA, life after menopause. Let’s do this!
As you probably know by now, menopause is a gradual process, including three stages—perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. Though no two people experience menopause the same, the menopausal journey takes from 2-14 years. And while you may experience a few menopausal symptoms from this point on, you should see them subside as you settle into your “new normal.”
What Happens During Life After Menopause?
The Bonuses of Life After Menopause
Will life return to normal during postmenopause? The short answer: Yes … ish. Achieving postmenopause comes with positive and negative effects. The major positive is that you don’t have to worry about dealing with those pesky periods ever again. You know that *special* time of month when you are so over anything and everything? Well, you can say “Bye, Flo-licia” to PMS, as well as to the cramps, headaches, and mood swings that come with it.
And since you’re not having a period, you no longer have to worry about unplanned pregnancies (although protecting yourself from STDs is still incredibly important).
The Bummers of Life After Menopause
Now that we’ve accentuated the positives, we must
eliminate illuminate the negatives. During menopause your estrogen and progesterone levels will fluctuate. To riff on Joni Mitchell, 🎶Don’t it always seems to go / That you don’t appreciate E ‘till it’s gone.🎶
As we already know, estrogen is the primary female hormone, especially as it relates to the reproductive system. At PauseMeNot, we like to think of Estrogen (AKA “E”) as “The Multitasking Hormone.” It promotes the growth and health of the female reproductive organs, and keeps the vagina moisturized, elastic, and supplied with blood. During menopause, the production of progesterone (AKA “P”) stops when there is no ovulation and after the final menstrual period. For more information about E and P, be sure to check out this helpful post.
According to the medical professionals at Johns Hopkins, “Estrogens are a group of hormones that play an important role in the normal sexual and reproductive development in women. They are also sex hormones. The woman’s ovaries make most estrogen hormones, although the adrenal glands and fat cells also make small amounts of the hormones. In addition to regulating the menstrual cycle, estrogen affects the reproductive tract, the urinary tract, the heart and blood vessels, bones, breasts, skin, hair, mucous membranes, pelvic muscles, and the brain. Secondary sexual characteristics, such as pubic and armpit hair, also start to grow when estrogen levels rise. Many organ systems, including the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems, and the brain are affected by estrogen.” In other words, E makes the multitasking of Shonda Rhymes look like the laid-backness of Paris Hilton.
With a decrease in estrogen, your body may be affected in the following ways:
- Cardiovascular Disease — A decrease in estrogen levels might be a factor in the increase in heart disease among post-menopausal women.
- Osteoporosis — A decrease in estrogen means that your bones are more prone to become weak and brittle.
- Urinary Issues — Low estrogen levels means that the urethra lining might become thin, resulting in weaker pelvic muscles, leading to bladder leakage and urinary tract infections.
- Cancer Risks — The risk of breast and ovarian cancer rises after menopause due to hormonal changes related to menopause.
- Metabolism Changes — Women often see a decrease in their metabolism during menopause due to reduced estrogen levels.
- Sexual Drive Changes — Estrogen is one of the primary sex hormones. When the levels change, so does your sex drive.
A Reminder on Life After Menopause
You should no longer have vaginal bleeding once you hit this stop on your journey. So, if you do have vaginal bleeding after more than one year of no menstrual periods due to menopause, notify your doctor ASAP.
The Possible Treatments During Life After Menopause
Cardiovascular Disease, Osteoporosis, and Cancer Risks, oh my! Nothing like life-threatening health challenges to help you settle into your golden years, eh?? But, don’t worry! As with any health concern, having a positive and proactive mindset and investing in preventative maintenance, tests, and treatments help you make it through health challenges empowered. Your limitations (or the risk of limitations) don’t have to limit you. Get informed, take action, and live life to the fullest.
It’s a Wrap!
You’ve reached the final stop on your menopausal journey: life after menopause, or postmenopause. Congrats! ¡Felicitaciones! Mazal Tov! Complimenti! Although I would love to tell you that you’ll “go back to normal,” things will probably look and feel a bit different. That’s OK! Consider this your “new normal.”
As part of postmenopause, you no longer have to worry about Aunt Flo stopping by without so much as a warning text. You also don’t have to worry about unplanned pregnancy. But once agai, please continue to practice safe sex. STDs are so not something we want to deal with, especially after menopause. Your hoo-ha thanks you in advance.
On the flip side, with a decrease in estrogen levels, you’ll need to be aware of the following:
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Urinary Issues
- Cancer Risk
- Metabolism Changes
- Sexual Drive Changes
So, say it with me: Peace out, periods! See ya later, pads, tampons, and cups! Helllllooooo, white pants whenever you want!
After all of the years of going through puberty, worrying about leaking, and losing a good chunk of your estrogen, you made it here. Yay! The worst menopause symptoms (hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings) are bound to fade as your body gets accustomed to the changing hormone levels. So, go ahead and enjoy these postmenopausal years.
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