What to Expect from Postmenopause

Medically Reviewed By Carla Prophete, MPAS, PA-C

The term “postmenopause” describes the phase after menopause when a person hasn’t experienced menstruation for at least a year. People experiencing postmenopause may have symptoms like menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and mood changes. Postmenopause symptoms can linger for years. Understanding postmenopause, how it may affect you, and how you can manage it are important parts of helping you go through the natural aging process.

Read on to learn more about postmenopause, including body changes that can occur, symptoms you may experience, and how to find relief.

What does it mean to be postmenopausal?

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Postmenopause is the phase after menopause when menstruation has been absent for at least a year.

Many people begin menopause between ages 49 and 52 Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source , and the transition typically lasts about 4 years Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source . However, some people can spend about one-third Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source of their lives in the postmenopausal stage, and there may be some challenging symptoms for years.

What body changes occur during menopause?

During menopause, reproductive hormone levels drop. For example, the ovaries decrease their estrogen production. Androgen hormones, including testosterone, taper off more slowly.

The hormone reduction leads to changes that can include:

  • bone density loss
  • breast tissue composition changes
  • thinner and drier vaginal and urinary tissues
  • plaque buildup in artery linings and a blood pressure increase
  • increased cholesterol levels
  • weight gain

You may also have more dental health concerns Trusted Source Office on Women's Health Governmental authority Go to source due to dry mouth. If you’ve experienced exposure to high lead levels, you may be at a higher risk of kidney disease or neurological symptoms like difficulty with memory.

Learn more about how menopause affects your body and mind.

What are the postmenopause symptoms?

Postmenopause symptoms are continuations of those experienced during menopause and may include Trusted Source National Institute on Aging Governmental authority Go to source :

  • hot flashes and night sweats, known as vasomotor symptoms
  • urinary tract concerns, like incontinence and infections
  • vaginal dryness
  • lower libido, or sex drive
  • mood changes, including anxiety and depression
  • sleep disturbances
  • increased body fat
  • hair thinning
  • increase in facial hair

This collection of symptoms is sometimes called postmenopausal syndrome.

Learn more about 6 symptoms never to ignore during menopause.

How can you manage postmenopause symptoms?

Recommendations for managing postmenopause symptoms can vary according to age. For example, people under 60 Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source or who’ve undergone menopause in the last 10 years may benefit from hormone therapy (HT).

Hormone therapy

HT may reduce or eliminate vasomotor symptoms, vaginal dryness, and urinary incontinence. Your doctor may give you estrogen and progesterone combined or estrogen only. If you have a uterus, your doctor may prescribe the combined medication, which can help reduce the risk of uterine cancer from estrogen alone.

The type and dose of HT can vary from person to person. The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) notes that clinicians may often recommend using the lower dosages for shorter times.

The NAMS generally considers the HT risk low for women under 60, but your doctor can help you understand the risks and benefits of HT.

The potential HT risks include:

  • breast cancer if you take estrogen and progesterone
  • blood clots with HT pills rather than skin patches
  • stroke with HT pills

The risks can be higher for older adults. Talk with your doctor or gynecologist about whether HT might be appropriate for your postmenopausal symptoms if you’re older than 60.

Other treatments

Other options for managing postmenopausal symptoms may include:

  • medications to manage vasomotor symptoms, including antidepressants or blood pressure medications
  • vaginal lubricants or suppositories to manage vaginal dryness
  • nonpharmacological remedies, including:
    • regular physical activity
    • relaxation techniques
    • healthy sleep hygiene habits
    • therapy to manage mood changes

Learn more about coping with the emotions of menopause.

What conditions do postmenopausal people need to be aware of?

Some health conditions that affect postmenopausal people can occur due to aging processes and hormone level changes. These conditions include:

  • Cardiovascular disease: Higher cholesterol levels that occur with age and hormone changes may lead to plaque buildup and artery blockages that can result in heart attack or stroke.
  • Osteoporosis: Bone density loss resulting from age and hormone changes can make you more likely to have fractures.
  • Cognitive impairment: Some people may experience mental acuity loss due to age and hormone changes.

How can you lower your risk of these postmenopausal conditions?

You can’t prevent menopause, but you can make lifestyle changes that may help keep your bones strong and lower the chance of developing cardiovascular disease.

Lifestyle changes for people experiencing postmenopause may include:

  • eating a balanced diet with plenty of lean meats, vegetables, and whole grains
  • getting regular physical activity to keep your bones and muscles strong, which could include weight-bearing exercises like walking or low impact aerobics
  • experiencing brain-stimulating and social activities to help prevent or slow mental acuity loss

There’s mixed evidence about dietary supplement benefits. Herbal supplements may help symptoms in some people, but experts still need to determine Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source their quality and effectiveness. Talk with your doctor before you start any supplements.

Learn more about 7 common supplements for menopause.

It’s also important to note that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force doesn’t recommend HT as an effective treatment for preventing chronic conditions.

Summary

Postmenopause is the period after menopause when you haven’t had menstruation for at least a year, and the postmenopausal period can linger, sometimes for years.

The hormone level changes in menopause can have various effects on the body. Symptoms may include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, weakened bones, and mood and sleep changes.

Treatments for postmenopausal symptoms and changes include hormone therapy, certain medications, and lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes, like regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, and brain-stimulating activities, may help prevent some conditions that are more likely to occur as people age.

Talk with your doctor about ways to manage postmenopause and its symptoms.

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Medical Reviewer: Carla Prophete, MPAS, PA-C
Last Review Date: 2023 Jul 5
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