If perimenopause and menopause have their similarities, what is meant by postmenopause? In simple terms, it means menopause. Menopause is the ceasing of menstruation, and its prefix “post” indicates you are after that point, hitting the trenches with a hearty wave or middle finger to your fading cycles. (Excuse the rudimentary English lesson but with subject effects this varied and scrambled, at least we can find peace in relatively stagnant linguistics.)
But like any post-?, what’s to come and should we be fearful? Your skepticism is valid! PTSD is hard, postpartum depression is depressing, even post offices are the absolute worst. “Please,” you might be thinking. “Give me a good reason to be excited about this particular post!”
Unlike other evil prefixes, post + menopause = that the worst of the physical and mental symptoms gifted by perimenopause are on a gradual decline. While that gradient differs case by case, you’re essentially trading your monthly red linings for a silver one: the hot flashes, the mood swings, the joint aches, the vacant libidos, the breast pain, the general irrationality of your body slowly betraying you…these are waning activities. Experience them while you can.
Once you sail through perimenopause and meet menopause, and once you’ve not had a period for an entire year, you are truly postmenopausal. Breezy, right? But take caution with your new accolade: lower levels of estrogen can trigger risk for health conditions like osteoporosis and heart disease. Because it’s always something! Our lady estrogen is a big influence on the body’s ability to employ calcium, helpfully commanding bones to stop breaking down. Unfortunately, this direction stalls slightly as we mature. Between the beginning of menopause and the age of 60, women can lose an average of 25% of their bone mass, largely due to lessening estrogen. Plaque buildup in the arteries, as associated with an estrogen-affected cholesterol increase, can also up the odds of coronary heart disease.
Hormone replacement therapy and a healthy lifestyle can help limit these risks but any direction of treatment should involve your doctor. Health professionals can analyze your needs as you transition, as well as help you monitor any lingering fertility issues. It is possible to get pregnant during perimenopause up until postmenopause. If this isn’t your dream and you’re sexually active, continue your contraceptive method until you’ve gone those 12 months without a period, and always consult your doctor about the right time to quit birth control.
Did you do it? Did you survive? Are you postmenopausal? What treatments helped you transition and what health issues are you focusing on in this new phase of your life?