So, you’ve already spent a year without menstruating. What now? Well, now comes post menopause. Here we’ll explain the typical symptoms, potential complications, and habits to stay healthy during this last stage of menopause.
What is post menopause?
It’s just another stage of a woman’s life, which happens after menopause. The beginning of this period is defined as one year after your last menstruation. It consists in two phases (Rey et al., 2018):
- Early phase: the first 5 or 8 years after your last menstruation, in case of early menopause.
- Late phase: the period after the postmenopausal early phase.
Signs and characteristic symptoms
Postmenopausal signs and symptoms may vary greatly. Some women are asymptomatic, while others experience severe discomfort. There are more than 34 symptoms related to menopause and post menopause, mainly physical and mental. The most common may include (Ortman et al., 2020):
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Problems with memory
- Weight gain
- Difficulty sleeping
- Depression and anxiety
- Dry skin
- Muscle pain
- Joint stiffness
- Slow thinking
- Reduced sex drive
- Urinary incontinence
- Vaginal dryness
- Pain or discomfort during sex
- Itching or burning in the genitals
- Mood swings
Postmenopausal symptoms are caused by a gradual reduction of oestrogen hormones that occurs during this phase. However, after 8 years, those changes tend to stabilise and most symptoms disappear, except for those affecting the genitals (Rey et al., 2018).
At this life stage, the risk of contracting certain diseases increases, such as (Mayo Clinic, 2021):
- Osteoporosis: many women may lose bone density. Weakened bones are more susceptible to fractures.
- Cardiovascular diseases: reduced oestrogen levels increase the risks of heart attacks, artery blockage and strokes.
- Sexual function alterations: the genital area is affected by major changes (atrophy and vaginal dryness) and sexual drive is reduced, causing complications during intercourse.
- Weight gain: metabolism becomes slower after menopause, leading to weight gain.
- Urinary incontinence: the loss of vaginal and urethral elasticity weakens the pelvic floor, causing urinary incontinence.
Personal care actions during post menopause
Healthy habits can help ease the symptoms and prevent future complications. Because of this, recommendations for the women at this stage of their life include (Ayala, 2020; Mayo Clinic, 2021):
- Adopt a balanced diet with more fruits, vegetables, and food low in sugar and saturated fats.
- Exercise 30 minutes per day. Cardiovascular or moderate resistance exercise is recommended.
- Eat a diet rich in calcium.
- Practice Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor and prevent prolapses and urine loss.
- Learn and practice stress control techniques such as breathing techniques, meditation, or yoga.
- Implement sleep habits such as going to bed at the same hour every day, avoiding heavy meals at night and reducing screen time before sleeping.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages, cigars, and drugs.
- Use water-based vaginal lubricants to prevent dryness.
- Add natural supplements such as maca, ginseng and hops to your daily routine.
- Get regular health check-ups to adequately treat any complications that may arise.
Post menopause is just another stage in woman’s life. There is no need to worry about it. Its biggest change is a reduction in oestrogen production which causes some discomforting physical and mental symptoms. Fortunately, it’s possible to make things easier just by implementing simple healthy habits.
Ayala, F. (2020). Estrategias de manejo durante el climaterio y menopausia. Guía práctica de atención rápida. Revista Peruana de Investigación Materno Perinatal, 9(2), 34-41. https://investigacionmaternoperinatal.inmp.gob.pe/index.php/rpinmp/article/download/204/200/730
Mayo Clinic. (2021). Menopause. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353401
Ortmann, O., Beckermann, M.J., Inwald, E.C. et al. Peri- and postmenopause—diagnosis and interventions interdisciplinary S3 guideline of the association of the scientific medical societies in Germany (AWMF 015/062): short version. Archives of gynecology and obstetrics, 302(3), 763–777. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00404-020-05682-4
Rey, C., Cavanna, M., Campostrini, B., Caro, R., Moggia, S., Belardo, M., Shayo, S. (2018). ROL ACTUAL DE LA THM Y ESTRATEGIAS DE PREVENCION EN LA MEDICINA DEL CLIMATERIO. Gynaecology Consensus SOGIBA. http://www.sogiba.org.ar/images/Consenso_THM_2018.pdf