Once you have gone through menopause and you have gone more than one year without a natural menstrual period, you are officially considered to be postmenopausal.
During this time you will probably experience post menopause symptoms as the hormone levels in your body start to settle. But what exactly are post menopausal symptoms and what can you expect during this stage of life?
In this article, we’ll be looking at post menopause in more detail — particularly the symptoms and changes that happen to the body at this time. We’ll also be covering how long these last for, as well as any useful treatments. Read on to find out more.
For more information about menopause, head over to the menopause guides section of The Independent Pharmacy website.
To browse the menopause medicines and treatments we have available here, visit our menopause (HRT) treatments page.
What is post menopause?
Postmenopause is the stage of life you enter once your periods have stopped for more than 12 months.
There are three phases of menopause:
- Perimenopause: this is the name given to the stage leading up to menopause and your final cycle, as your body makes the transition (“perimenopause” means “around menopause”). This part typically lasts three to four years (though can be shorter or longer). You can find out more about perimenopause and what to expect over in our article about the signs of perimenopause.
- Menopause: menopause refers to the point in time when the menstrual cycle ends and a woman hasn’t had a period for over a year. Often people use the term “menopause” to refer to the perimenopause stage.
- Postmenopause: this final phase begins once you’ve reached menopause and you no longer have a menstrual cycle.
When these phases take place can vary from person to person. For British women, the average age of menopause is 51 years old. The “normal” range of menopause is between the ages of 45 and 55, though it can happen earlier or later.
Most women will notice that menopause takes place over a number of years and is quite gradual. However, for some people, it may happen very suddenly.
Post menopause symptoms list
For lots of people, reaching post menopause has both positives and negatives.
If you’ve been experiencing severe or distressing menopausal symptoms, or you are someone who suffers from painful periods or PMT, then getting to the post menopause stage can be a relief.
Generally speaking, by the time you have reached postmenopause, your hormone levels have usually stabilised, which means you are less likely to encounter any big changes or have long-lasting, hormone-related symptoms.
However, there are still some symptoms people can experience during this time, including:
- Vaginal dryness
- Painful sex
- Lack of libido
- Recurrent urinary tract infections (e.g. cystitis)
- Frequent urination
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Low mood
- Mood swings
- Insomnia and disturbed sleep
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Weight gain
- Digestive issues
- Dry and ageing skin
- Dry or itchy eyes
- Thinning hair or hair loss
- Tooth and gum problems
- Joint aches and pains
- Heart disease
These symptoms can vary from person to person — just because it is listed here, doesn’t mean you will experience it post menopause. The severity of these symptoms can differ too. For some, they may be very mild and infrequent; for others, they may be more severe, causing discomfort or pain.
How long do symptoms of post menopause last?
Some people find that once they reach menopause (and are postmenopausal), they stop experiencing menopausal symptoms.
However, for lots of postmenopausal women, the symptoms they have been experiencing during perimenopause don’t all stop at once. They can take some time to settle down and many people still experience some symptoms — we call these post menopause symptoms, even though many of them are similar to perimenopausal symptoms.
On the whole, post menopausal symptoms will last for a couple of years after menopause, and should then slowly fade.
In some cases, symptoms like hot flushes may continue for as long as 10 years post menopause.
Postmenopausal women may also find that while some symptoms improve, others can get worse — such as osteoporosis.
Common post menopause symptoms
Once you have gone through the menopause and reached the post menopause stage of life, your body will start to settle and become adjusted to your decreased hormone levels.
This means that while you will start to feel the effects of natural ageing, the menopausal symptoms you have experienced over the last few years will generally stop.
However, there are some changes and symptoms that you can expect post menopause that you may want to know more about, particularly if you are worried that they aren’t normal, or you’re struggling with symptoms.
We’ve covered some of the most common post menopause symptoms below.
Hot flushes post menopause
Hot flushes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause, and most women experience them. Hot flushes can cause you to feel overheated, sweat, and leave skin flushed and red (usually on the face and neck area).
Although some women only get hot flushes during perimenopause, they can continue on into post menopause as your body’s hormone levels settle. Some women report having hot flushes for a couple of years post menopause. For some women, hot flushes can last for up to 10 years — and for some, they never go away.
Generally, hot flushes should get less intense and less frequent as time goes on.
Post menopause anxiety
Menopause can cause a number of emotional and mental symptoms — your body is going through a lot of changes during this time, which can be very stressful in itself, but fluctuating hormone levels can also affect the neurotransmitters and levels of serotonin (a “happy chemical”) in our brains.
Post menopause anxiety, panic attacks, mood swings, low mood and depression are not uncommon.
If you are experiencing symptoms like this, speak to your GP. They will be able to advise you further.
Post menopause weight gain (and post menopause weight loss)
Post menopause weight changes are quite common. In particular, many women do start to notice post menopause weight gain at this point in their lives.
It is normal to gain some weight around this time as a natural result of the hormonal changes your body is going through, as well as the natural process of ageing. These factors combined lead to a change in body composition, including loss of muscle mass, and an increase in body fat.
Post menopause weight gain is to do with this natural process as well as ageing; HRT is not responsible for weight gain and no connection has been made between the two.
Post menopause fatigue
As with all menopausal symptoms, post menopause fatigue is down to fluctuating hormone levels in the body. Because of these, your energy levels will drop (hormones play an important part in energy regulation) and you’ll notice that you feel tired and lethargic.
Other post menopause symptoms such as insomnia, fragmented sleep, hot flushes and night sweats can contribute to this problem and leave you feeling extremely fatigued and drained of energy.
Post menopause hair changes
Post menopause hair changes are a symptom that many women report during this phase of life. In particular, hair thinning and hair loss in postmenopausal women is quite common.
This is because of the lower levels of oestrogen in the body. These decreasing hormone levels cause hair growth to slow down.
As you get older, hair follicles also start to shrink, which increases hair loss and thinning.
Post menopausal breast pain
Breast pain and tenderness is more common pre-menopause than post menopause, and is often a side effect of elevated oestrogen levels (for example, if you are on your period, or pregnant).
Breast pain and discomfort should go away once you are post menopausal. If you are experiencing post menopausal breast pain, soreness or discomfort in any way, or you notice any changes in your breasts, it is a good idea to speak to your GP. Often it is nothing serious, but it may be an indication of something else.
Period pain post menopause
Many women experience abdominal pain and cramping during their reproductive years, and they are usually a normal (if painful and frustrating) symptom of their period.
However, if you are experiencing period pain post menopause, or feeling abdominal cramps or pain at all, it is worth seeing your doctor and getting it checked out. Most of the time it is nothing serious (it could just be a stomach bug, for example), but sometimes it can be a sign of a more serious underlying health condition, such as uterine fibroids, endometriosis, or ovarian or uterine cancers.
Post menopause is the stage of life you enter once your natural periods have stopped for more than a year, and you no longer have a menstrual cycle. Once you have reached this point, you are classed as post menopausal.
There are a number of symptoms you will experience post menopause — most commonly, hot flushes, mood changes, vaginal dryness, osteoporosis, and hair changes.
Generally, these post menopause symptoms are nothing to worry about, and they will subside and disappear in time.
However, if you are experiencing discomfort, pain or upset from post menopausal symptoms, there are a number of treatments that can help to manage and relieve them.
HRT (hormone replacement therapy) can effectively help to alleviate post menopausal symptoms for many women.
At The Independent Pharmacy, we offer a range of different medications and treatments that can help with post menopause symptoms, such as:
For more information on HRTs, visit our dedicated menopause HRT treatments page.
If you are not sure which is the best treatment for you, speak to your GP or talk to our team of our professional advisors at The Independent Pharmacy for further information and advice.
Once your GP has decided on a treatment, you can easily re-order it by completing a short online consultation on the treatment page, before our team of qualified pharmacists can approve your order and dispatch it for next-day delivery.