What Is Postmenopause?

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Menopause is the phase of life that a person enters when they have not had a menstrual period for one year. It signifies the end of a person's reproductive years. Postmenopause is the stage that a person enters when they are past menopause.

There are three stages of the menopausal transition: perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause.

When you are postmenopausal, you can no longer get pregnant. At this stage, you may also stop having menopausal symptoms. However, some people keep having symptoms beyond menopause, but those symptoms are often milder.

Here's what you need to know about being postmenopausal, including strategies that can help you cope with the transition.

Senior woman with white hair in a bun out in the garden looking at a flowering plant

Getty Images / Vicki Smith

Postmenopausal Symptoms

Postmenopause begins after menopause, the period of time in which a person has not had their period for 12 months. In postmenopause, the symptoms that a person had during perimenopause (menopausal transition) and menopause may lessen or even go away.

You might still have some lingering menopausal symptoms when you enter postmenopause, including:

Causes

As your body gets older, it starts making fewer reproductive hormones. Specifically, the ovaries make less estrogen. The period of declining hormone production, called perimenopause, can last eight to 10 years.

When the ovaries stop releasing an egg each month and are no longer producing estrogen, you stop getting your monthly period. At this time, you transition from perimenopause to menopause.

When you have completed menopause, you enter the postmenopausal stage.

Diagnosis

To determine whether you have entered postmenopause, your doctor will ask you questions about your menstrual cycle in the past year. If you have not had your period for one year, you might be postmenopausal.

It's usually not necessary for a person to have a blood test to confirm that they are in menopause; however, a doctor may use a blood test to check levels of specific hormones, such as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estrogen.

Treatment

The stages of menopause are a normal part of life and do not require specific treatment. However, some people experience symptoms during the transition that greatly affect their life. If this is the case for you, your doctor might recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Hormone Replacement Therapy Risks

While hormone replacement therapy may help with symptoms like hot flashes or vaginal dryness, there are also risks involved.

Hormone replacement therapy may lead to:

People with some health conditions or risk factors may not be able to take HRT. However, they can try other strategies for coping with any lingering menopausal symptoms, such as other types of medication and lifestyle changes.

Reducing Risk

For some people, going through menopause also increases their risk of certain medical conditions that do require prevention and treatment.

Once you have entered the postmenopausal stage, your risk of developing some health conditions can increase, including:

If you have lingering menopausal symptoms once you enter postmenopause, your doctor might suggest certain treatments, such as:

Sexual Health

The vaginal dryness that often begins during menopause may persist into postmenopause. It can be treated with vaginal lubricants, but the first-line treatment is vaginal moisturizers, with lubricant if needed. Topical vaginal estrogen treatment is also highly effective.

Practicing Safe Sex

Although a sexually active person can no longer get pregnant when they are postmenopausal, they are still at risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Increased vaginal dryness means that people who are postmenopausal may even be at higher risk for these infections.

Mental Health

While menopause and postmenopause are natural phases of life, they also signal a person's loss of fertility. This can be emotionally challenging for some people.

The drop in hormone levels that occurs during the menopausal process can also contribute to depression and anxiety.

You might find it beneficial to work with a therapist or counselor throughout menopause. These mental health professionals can help you cope with the changes that the transition brings.

Preventive Screenings

It’s also important to get regular physical checkups as you go through menopause and beyond. Diseases like some cancers and chronic conditions become more common as you get older.

Factors like your genetics and lifestyle will also determine which preventive health screenings you need, as well as when—and how often—you need to have them.

A few examples of screenings that you can ask your doctor about when you reach postmenopause include:

A Word From Verywell

Postmenopause is part of the natural progression of life for most people with female reproductive organs. As a person gets older, the body will no longer produce certain hormones and the person stops having menstrual cycles.

If you have been in menopause and notice that you have not had your period for a year, it might mean that you have transitioned into postmenopause. Once you enter postmenopause, you will no longer be able to get pregnant.

Some people notice that once they become postmenopausal, the symptoms that they had during menopause lessen or go away. For some people, the symptoms can linger, and even mild symptoms can interfere with normal day-to-day activities.

Talk to your doctor about any bothersome symptoms that you’re experiencing during menopause or postmenopause. While they might be a "normal" part of the process, they can be eased with treatment.

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  1. Cleveland Clinic. Menopause, perimenopause, postmenopause. Updated December 24, 2019.

  2. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office on Women's Health. Menopause and your health. Updated September 21, 2018.