What Exactly Happens After Menopause?

Green street sign with white letters for Menopause Lane. Use it for humor regarding middle age for women.

If you are a woman approaching menopause, you probably have a lot of questions – Will the symptoms of menopause like hot flashes and mood swings stop after your last period? Are you going to experience any discomfort? Read on to find out what you can expect after menopause.

Most women look for information on what is in store for them when they’re about to reach menopause, when their ovaries would stop producing eggs and their menstrual cycles become irregular. But not many know what will happen once their periods are truly over.

A menopause is when a woman has not had a menstrual cycle for no less than 12 months consecutively. When you reach that stage, your transition into the non-child-bearing years of your life is complete.

After the Last Period

Even when your menstrual periods permanently end, that does not necessarily mean you won’t experience any of those bothersome menopause symptoms. Mood swings, hot flashes, and other symptoms can continue for some time before and after the last period. In fact, there is a window of around eight years in which you can still experience those hot flashes and sweats.

Once you reach menopause, you can expect for the symptoms to even get worse than they were when you were on your perimenopausal stage (the 2 – 10 year stage before you reach the end of your menstruation). While experts still do not know the exact reason for this, it is believed that it has something to do with the hypothalamus which is the portion of the brain that regulates temperature.

You see, the hypothalamus is responsive to estrogen and your estrogen levels fluctuate as you reach menopause. When they are high, you don’t experience any symptoms. But once you go into menopause and you lack estrogen, you are going to notice those symptoms more.

Managing the Symptoms

Missing estrogen in the body can be replaced with medication to help relieve both hot flashes and night sweats. Note, however, that some women who get hormone replacement therapy find that the symptoms resume years later, when they stop taking the drugs.

There are also some non-hormonal methods that you can try for menopause symptoms. Of course, the simplest and safest way to control your physical symptoms is to make sure that you are in good health. You can achieve this by doing regular exercise, to eat healthy, get enough rest at night, and to stay away unhealthy habits.

Along with those physical changes that happen after you reach menopause, you should also know that you are at a greater risk for heart disease so you should think of changing your diet to low-fat and low-salt.

Make sure that you have routine check-ups that include a blood test at least every five years until you reach the age of 50 and then regularly after that age. The interval will be recommended by your doctor depending on your cholesterol levels and other risk factors.

It is always a good idea to prepare for what’s ahead, including menopause and the years after. You can contact FemRenew and have Dr. Fay Weisberg help you prepare for those challenging years.