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Post menopause refers to the period in a woman’s life when she is no longer ovulating due to either surgery that removes or disables the ovaries or to the normal process of menopause where hormone levels naturally decline. There are some people who get confused on when post menopause occurs and what it means. Generally, menopause is the time during which hormones begin to change and eventually result in lack of ovulation and lack of a menstrual cycle. Once women are through this time period, which can take several years and tends to occur in the early 50s or late 40s, they are considered postmenopausal.
The years marked by actively undergoing menopause can be difficult ones, with many different symptoms. As periods get irregular or begin to decline, women may have numerous symptoms that can include marked changes in mood, hot flashes, or skin and vaginal dryness. Some of these symptoms, particularly vaginal dryness, may be retained post menopause, and women are advised to use water-based lubricants to promote comfort and enjoyment of sexual activity.
There are other medical risks that accompany the post menopause stage. In particular, declining levels of estrogen may impact how well bones retain their mass and stay strong. Osteoporosis becomes an increasing risk factor for women, especially if they are Caucasian or have a small frame. A number of medications may help retain bone mass and help offset or prevent osteoporosis, and these are worth discussing with a physician.
Women who are post menopause are also at increased risk for heart disease. It’s advised that women begin regular cardiac screenings per doctor’s advice to catch any early warning signs. Though women have stopped regular menstruation, gynecological examinations remain important too, and this time is associated with increased risk for reproductive organ and breast cancers. In all events, any sign of bleeding from the vagina at this time should be viewed as abnormal and warrants a doctor’s exam to determine possible cause.
To address continuing menopausal symptoms, some doctors recommend medical interventions like hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The medical community is split on the value of this, unless a menopausal symptom is very serious, because HRT can increase chances of getting reproductive system cancers or breast cancer. In contrast, for many physicians and their patients, HRT remains a viable option that can help reduce severe menopausal symptoms or problems that could arise due to declining estrogen.
On the flip side, many women find they get their stride back when they are truly post menopause. The storm of mood changes, hot flashes and menstrual irregularities of a few year’s prior seems to recede, and many women find themselves feeling in excellent health at this time of life. With regular medical screenings and healthy lifestyle choices, this time of life, which can be 40-50% of a woman’s life, can certainly be lived well.