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Post Menopause

What Happens After Menopause

Post Menopause is the time in a woman’s life after entering into menopause and infertility.  During this time, the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and mood swings, tend to occur less frequently and with less severity.  In some cases, however, these symptoms can continue to happen for years after the ovaries stop producing eggs.

A woman is medically considered to be postmenopausal after going a full year without having a period, though this can be measured by also testing the levels of FSH – follicle stimulating hormone – in your blood.  This is a hormone that is produced in the pituitary gland, and the levels of this hormone have a sharp increase when the ovaries are no longer producing eggs.  A single blood test should be enough to accurately measure this hormone.

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What to Expect Post Menopause

Typically, there should be relief from the more painful and unpleasant symptoms of menopause once entering into post menopause, and you may feel more energetic and lively.  However, this relief will also come along with other health concerns that you need to be aware of.

Menopause causes rapid changes within your body, which greatly impacts your hormone levels.  A hormone imbalance can cause a number of health issues and increase the likelihood of certain conditions.  Being post-menopausal will mean an elevated risk of suffering from certain conditions.  These include:

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition which affects the bones.  It causes your bones to become very weak and very susceptible to breaking.  Normally, your bones are constantly replacing old bone and adding in new bone, but estrogen performs a vital function in this process.  A reduction in estrogen is a large part of menopause, and this sudden decrease can result in brittle, weak bones that lead to the onset of osteoporosis in women that are post-menopausal.

Not all women will suffer from osteoporosis, even after becoming post-menopausal.  There are other risk factors that will increase the chances, such as:

  • Hereditary osteoporosis – the disease running in the family
  • Breaking a bone during adulthood
  • Surgery that removes both ovaries before the natural onset of menopause
  • Menopause that occurs earlier than normal
  • Low calcium, or a prolonged calcium deficiency
  • Extended amount of bed rest
  • Smoking, or frequently drinking heavily
  • Using certain types of medications, such as glucocorticoids or anticonvulsants for extended periods
  • Having a thin, small body frame

Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to help prevent osteoporosis.

Before entering into menopause, building up as much bone density as you can help you keep healthy bones afterwards; however, even if you have not taken steps to do this beforehand, you can still being an exercise routine and work on proper dieting after the onset of menopause.  A healthy diet with high amounts of calcium and vitamin D, along with an exercise routine that includes weight-bearing exercises like walking and stair climbing can work well to prevent or slow bone loss. 

Cardiovascular Disease

While women tend to be at a lower risk for cardiovascular disease than men throughout most of their lives, menopause seems to increase the chances that they will develop a complication during their post-menopausal years.

The most common cardiovascular diseases include atherosclerosis, angina, heart attack, and stroke.  Post-menopausal women have a much higher risk of developing these conditions than other women, with these diseases killing nearly 11 times as many women per year as breast cancer. 

Menopause tends to lower the levels of HDL – the high density lipoproteins that are often referred to as ‘good’ cholesterol.  This can increase the levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides in your system, increasing the risk of developing dangerous heart conditions as well.

Routine exercise and a healthy diet are ways to combat the increased risk of cardiovascular disease that accompanies the post-menopausal period of your life.  Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight will also go a long way in preventing these dangerous conditions from ever cropping up.  Additionally, if you smoke, quitting can reduce the risk significantly.

Urinary Problemsmenopause

While not necessarily caused by menopause, many women in the post-menopausal period of their lives may suffer from urinary incontinence.  That are several different kinds of urinary incontinence, including:

Stress incontinence

Urinary problems triggered by stress.  This type of incontinence may cause leakage when sneezing, coughing, laughing, or stepping off a curb.

Overflow incontinence

Urinary problem caused by a problem emptying the bladder.  This type of incontinence may cause leakage because the bladder is always nearly full.

Urge and functional incontinence

Urinary problem caused by being unable to hold your bladder until getting to the toilet or being unable to move quickly enough due to physical problems or limitations.

These incontinence problems can be treated, but not if you try to ignore them and get over them without medical assistance.  There are numerous causes for urinary incontinence and the correct way to treat it is best determined by your doctor.  These problems are not typically caused directly by menopause, but their appearance often coincides with the age when menopause typically begins.