After a full year without a period, you’ve reached menopause — everything after that is postmenopause. While the average age for natural menopause is about 51, some people reach postmenopause as early as their 30s, and others don’t arrive until their 60s. Your timeline is likely to be about the same as your mother’s and sisters’.
In addition to hitting the one-year mark with no periods, your doctor may also check your hormone levels with a blood test to confirm that you’re through menopause.
Once you’re in postmenopause, you won’t ovulate or have periods, and you can no longer become pregnant. But it’s important to know that you can become pregnant during perimenopause (the years leading up to menopause when your cycles are less regular). If you don’t want to become pregnant, keep up with a reliable your birth control method until you’re sure you’ve reached menopause.
The physical signs of postmenopause might feel familiar
Many people experience symptoms during perimenopause — the infamous hot flashes, trouble sleeping, or mood changes, to name a few. After menopause, symptoms tend to go away or become milder. But it’s not uncommon to have a rogue hot flash now and then, even years after menopause.
For some people, symptoms that started in perimenopause can stick around for a decade or longer, including:
- Mood changes
- Changes in libido
- Trouble sleeping
- Dry skin
- Weight changes
- Hair loss
- Urinary incontinence
- Vaginal dryness
- Hot flashes
Just as with perimenopause, lifestyle changes, including healthy eating and regular exercise can ease symptoms during postmenopause. Reducing caffeine and alcohol can help with sleep. And if vaginal dryness is making sex uncomfortable, a water-based lubricant (available at most grocery stores or drug stores) can make a big difference.
If you’re past menopause and symptoms are bothering you, talk with your doctor to rule out other causes — and find ways to help. There are lots of options for natural remedies and medications to ease symptoms.
Postmenopause is the right time for self-care
This is the perfect time to up your self-care game. For many people, menopause comes after years of caring for others — sometimes without the time to take good care of themselves. In addition to eating well and exercising, set aside some time to catch up on wellness visits with your primary care doctor, dentist, and eye doctor.
In postmenopause, your body produces less estrogen, and this hormonal change raises a few health risks. So now’s also a good time to invest in some prevention.
Here’s how to lower your risk for heart disease
Estrogen helps protect against heart disease, so it’s especially important to care for your heart once your estrogen levels are lower after menopause. The most powerful steps you can take are:
- Eating well
- Quitting smoking
- Exercising regularly
- Treating high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes if you have them
Here’s how to protect your bones
With less estrogen, people also lose bone mass more quickly. In fact, people who are postmenoapausal can lose up to 1 to 2 percent of their bone mass each year. As bones become less dense, the risk for fractures goes up.
To protect your bones:
- Get plenty of calcium from foods such as cheese, yogurt, spinach, and fortified cereals. You may also choose to add a calcium supplement. In addition, a vitamin D supplement can help you absorb calcium.
- Practice weight-bearing exercises to strengthen your bones and muscles. Popular weight-bearing exercises include walking, hiking, dancing, and playing tennis. Resistance exercises, such as weightlifting, can also help keep bones strong.
- Add some balance exercises, such as yoga or tai chi. Keeping your balance sharp can help prevent falls.
It’s normal to have a lot of questions about life after menopause. If you’d like some expert guidance, contact your provider for support.
Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team
- “Postmenopause.” Cleveland Clinic. Cleveland Clinic. October 5, 2021. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21837-postmenopause
- “The Menopause Years.” American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG. November 2021. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/the-menopause-years.
- “Menopause FAQs: An Introduction to Menopause.” The North American Menopause Society. The North American Menopause Society. https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopause-faqs-an-introduction-to-menopause.
- “Exercise for Your Bone Health.” The National Institutes of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases ~ National Resource Center. National Institutes of Health. https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-health/exercise/exercise-your-bone-health.