Menopause is often considered to be one of the most significant events in a person’s life, especially for women or those assigned a vagina at birth. However, although the different stages of menopause - perimenopause; menopause, and postmenopause - can take roughly seven to fourteen years, there are some instances where postmenopausal symptoms come and go, even long after this transitionary period has ended.
A lot of people may often experience some mild symptoms of menopause during their postmenopausal years and will try their best to overcome the challenges of discomfort and physical changes they may experience.
Knowing how to identify some of these symptoms, and what factors influence postmenopause can better determine a possible diagnosis or what one can do to alleviate some of the discomfort a person may experience.
Importance of Understanding Post Menopause Symptoms
Menopause is considered to be the beginning of the cessation of the menstrual cycle. During this time, a person’s body may undergo tremendous changes, leading to a constant fluctuation of hormonal levels.
This fluctuation, either having too much or too little of certain hormones may cause the body to experience a host of different symptoms. In some instances, the most common symptoms may include, night sweats, chills, vaginal dryness, prolonged fatigue, headaches, migraines, tender breasts, and weight gain.
Other symptoms that may occur during postmenopause include irritability, mood swings, vaginal dryness, mental and emotional confusion, insomnia, depression, loss of bone density, and feelings of elevated stress or anxiety.
The causes of these physical and emotional changes are largely associated with the hypothalamic and pituitary hormones that help to regulate the menstrual cycle. Although experts suggest that menopause is not a central event, but instead primary ovarian failure, the depletion of hormones will steadily increase, due to lower levels of hormonal production.
Factors Influencing Post Menopause Symptoms
Although there are important things to take into consideration when trying to piece together how menopause and postmenopause may work interchangeably, and why some symptoms may return over time, there are external factors that may further prolong some postmenopausal symptoms.
Hormonal Changes During Post Menopause
During perimenopause, irregular menstrual cycles may become a frequent occurrence. However, once a person goes 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period, this typically marks the beginning of menopause and common menopause symptoms.
Seeing as this process may take several months or years, lower production of pituitary hormones, including follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH) and luteinizing hormones (LH) will steadily decrease. More than this, seeing that the ovarian system is working on an irregular pattern, other hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone production will fluctuate, and later production will cease.
Over the long term, this could mean that decreased levels of estrogen and progesterone may impact bodily function, leading to some mild or severe postmenopausal symptoms. As a person ages, and hormonal levels begin to deplete, some symptoms may continue, although this might be less severe as during menopause.
Lifestyle and Diet Effects
Some research has suggested that a healthy diet and lifestyle changes may positively impact a person’s experience of menopausal symptoms. One study found that people exploring healthy dietary patterns may be beneficial for managing menopausal symptoms.
On top of this, there has also been some indication that people of menopausal age may further benefit from improved healthy dietary patterns, which may positively impact their cognitive symptoms, including their moods and feelings of depression.
Stress and Psychological Factors
Each person may experience various levels of stress at different points in their life. Stress may be caused by external factors, such as work and family responsibilities, or menopause itself. However, there are ongoing studies that may suggest that ongoing stress or having continuously elevated stress levels may increase menopausal symptoms or prolong the severity of some symptoms in people.
Take A Look At Can Post-menopausal Symptoms Lead to Depression?
Genetics and Family History
In some instances, both menopausal and postmenopausal symptoms may be genetic. In fact, in one study, researchers found that some menopausal and postmenopausal symptoms may have a family connection. This might further explain why some people may experience prolonged postmenopausal symptoms or have some symptoms return even after menopause has ended.
Common Post Menopause Symptoms
With menopause taking place over several years, and during different stages, it’s important to know what are some of the postmenopausal symptoms a person may experience during this point in time in their life.
The feeling of elevated body temperature across the upper torso, usually in the neck, chest, and face. Hot flashes may be similar to the feeling of having a fever.
Sweating may occur, especially during the night, leaving bedding and evening wear drenched or wet.
Sudden mood changes are another common symptom that some people may experience. This may often include feelings of elevated irritability, anger, or sadness.
Due to the frequency of night sweats and discomfort experienced by other postmenopausal symptoms, sleep disturbance may cause people to feel tired, and fatigued and cause insomnia.
The combination of declining estrogen levels, aging, and loss of muscle tissue over time may cause some people to experience weight gain, especially around the abdomen of the body.
Declining levels of FSH and LH may cause thinning and drying of the vaginal lining. This can lead to vaginal dryness, often referred to as vaginal atrophy, and may cause irritability and severe discomfort during sexual intercourse.
Bone Health Issues
Research has found that people may lose up to 10% of their bone mass during menopause due to lower levels of estrogen. Loss of bone and deteriorating bone health may further increase the risk of developing osteoporosis.
There have been studies that showed some people experience lower cognitive performance during postmenopause, compared to pre- and per-menopause periods. During postmenopause, people may experience delayed memory and executive function. This is often assumed due to decreasing estrogen levels in the body.
Heart Health Concerns
Heart-related concerns are not only associated with people who may undergo menopause, and it’s advised by experts that everyone frequently visits a medical healthcare professional for routine checkups. However, in some instances, people who are in postmenopause may experience angina, a symptom that causes decreased blood flow to the heart. On top of this, other conditions, either chronic or external, may block blood flow to the heart, and elevate the risk of a heart attack, according to researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Can Post Menopause Symptoms Come and Go?
While there is not necessarily a short or definitive answer, there are some people who may experience mild postmenopausal symptoms, even long after menopause or the age of menopause.
Explanation of Fluctuating Symptoms
Some of the symptoms people experience during perimenopause may continue for as long as ten years post-menopause. This could be due to fluctuating hormone levels and, more importantly, the depletion of estrogen and progesterone levels.
Not every person may experience the same type of severity of symptoms, however, there may be instances where some symptoms, such as sweats, chills, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, and bone health, among others, may continue for extended periods, even after having a final menstrual period.
Scientific Studies on Symptom Variability
In a study from 2022, researchers found that there was an association between symptom severity and certain quality-of-life measures, including diet, well-being, and sleeping patterns. More than this, in the same study, researchers noticed that time since menopause and BMI were often associated with binge eating, which could potentially lead to increased weight gain in some people.
In another study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers identified that varying estradiol levels in some participants and the absence of progesterone levels were associated with depressive symptoms. In addition to this, factors such as body mass index, history of depression, and stressful life events were also considered, and could further be associated with depressive symptoms.
Cardio activity, or Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a vasomotor symptom that is common among menopausal and postmenopausal people. Findings have indicated that during menopausal and postmenopausal transition, HRV was decreased, and suggests that there is a significant association between HRV and both menopausal and postmenopausal transition.
Personal Experiences and Testimonials
There are countless accounts of people undergoing menopausal and postmenopausal transition, leading them to experience a variability of symptoms at different points in their lives.
In one account, a previous client shared that she experienced abnormal changes taking place after having heavy and irregular menstrual periods. Only after a few months of irregular periods, did she realize that she was entering perimenopause, and a visit to a healthcare professional helped to confirm this for her.
Once her periods came to an end, and she had started menopause, various things started taking place that left her feeling puzzled. She shared how her hair started falling out, unlike some people’s hair that may start thinning during menopause, our client shared that hers was falling out in clumps. The feeling of losing her hair, and experiencing other symptoms such as night sweats and weight gain further increased her anxiety levels, and often mentioned that she felt depressed and wanted to pack up her life and move somewhere else.
As her mental state began to deteriorate, she shared that frequent visits to a professional therapist helped her overcome some of her depressive episodes, however, her anxiety is constantly ebb and flow.
While she shares that she hasn’t experienced a period in over two years, there are still times that she has menstrual cramps, however, this is somewhat less frequent now as she’s steadily entering postmenopause. After years of discomfort, not feeling quite like herself, and wanting to start over somewhere else, she shares that natural remedies and treatments tend to alleviate some of the discomfort, however, the physical changes remain forever.
Her story is one of many, and countless people may experience more severe menopausal symptoms. Although there are times when it might feel that there is no end to the discomfort and that these feelings will continue forever, there is some good news, and that is that although menopause can be a challenging time, the people you surround yourself with, and seeking professional guidance can help to provide a different outlook on the whole experience.
Managing Post Menopause Symptoms
No two people will experience menopause the same, however, there are some small changes a person can make in their day-to-day life to enhance their performance and alleviate some of the discomfort.
Perhaps one of the most significant changes a person can make is to accept the reality of postmenopause. Although a lot of changes may take place during these years, taking the time to make peace with this reality can help establish new opportunities to overcome the discomfort.
Taking up exercise, even if this means jogging or walking for several minutes of the day may help to ease some of the symptoms. Working in a few minutes of meditation each morning or afternoon can also help to practice mindfulness, and become more in touch with what a person may be feeling.
More than this, decreasing some activities that no longer benefit a person’s well-being may also be another great way to overcome the severity of postmenopausal symptoms. Things like consuming less alcohol or caffeine, quitting smoking, or doing more regular exercise.
Changes in diet are another important factor to consider. While it’s not completely necessary to count every calorie or keep a close eye on what lands on your plate, instead incorporate a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables into your daily diet.
Things such as fruits and vegetables that are high in nutritional minerals and vitamins are crucial for creating a chemical balance in your body. Understanding which sources of protein, carbohydrates, and fiber are important will further help to better understand how a person can curate a diet or meal plan that benefits their overall well-being during postmenopause.
Stress Management Techniques
Take up things such as meditation or yoga to help you relax, or indulge in activities that you enjoy. You can decide to take up another hobby, whether it’s baking, cooking or even gardening, try and find things that you enjoy and make you feel comfortable with who you are.
Spending time outdoors can have a significant impact on personal well-being, especially mental health. Additionally, experts suggest talking to others, either a friend or family member about your experiences. Getting external insights from other people will perhaps help you place more emphasis on things that you have forgotten, or overlooked due to menopause.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Another treatment that may be suggested for some people is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This is usually a prescribed medication, such as an estrogen pill or tablet, that helps to elevate the levels of estrogen in the body, an important element for people during menopause.
HRT may be prescribed to people who have severe postmenopausal symptoms, however, it’s important to conduct frequent visits to a medical professional or consult with an OB/GYN about specific available treatment options.
While it’s also advised to visit your healthcare provider, alternative therapies such as biofeedback therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or even visiting a psychologist may assist with alleviating some of the tension you may be experiencing.
On top of this, some organic and natural dietary supplements could also provide some relief. In some instances, there are dietary supplements that contain organic ingredients that can help to relieve some discomfort, such as sea buckthorn for the treatment of natural vaginal lubrication.
Regular Health Check-ups
Routine check-ups with your healthcare provider are essential during the menopausal and postmenopausal transition. Healthcare providers will usually consult on specific treatments that are available, or provide guidance on how to alleviate some of the discomfort a person may experience during this time.
Seeking Medical Advice
Any person who may be concerned about severe menopausal symptoms can seek medical advice from a registered healthcare professional. Frequent visits to an OB/GYN may also be necessary and they may further provide guidance as to what extent you may be experiencing symptoms such as vaginal dryness.
In the event of severe reactions to certain medications, treatments, or dietary supplements, experts advise to cease use of medication immediately and seek medical attention for possible diagnosis of the problem.
Keep in mind that not every person will experience postmenopause the same, and various external factors may further elevate symptoms. In some cases, genetics may also play a role, including other chronic problems such as cancer, diabetes, depression, and anxiety.
Will I Ever Feel Better After Menopause?
During postmenopause, some menopause symptoms will become less severe or completely stop. However, there have been instances where some people may still experience mild menopause symptoms, such as chills, hot flashes, and vaginal dryness.
What are the Strange Head Sensations During Menopause?
There have been some reports of people experiencing a strange sensation in their head skin during menopause. The feeling is best described as a light electric shock or tingling effect. There is still little known as to why this occurs, whether there are any treatments available for it, or what the long-term effects may be. Some experts believe that this may be due to the decreased levels of estrogen, which often affects the nervous system.
The transition between menopause and postmenopause is a shared experience among many people. Although this is a natural occurrence that may take place over several years, it’s however not an isolated event and there are certain treatment options available to help alleviate some of the discomfort a person may experience.
Unfortunately, there is however a chance that some postmenopausal symptoms may return over time, although this may often be less severe, and shorter. In some cases, not all symptoms will return, and people may experience some mild feelings of night sweats, hot flashes, mood swings, or even vaginal dryness.
Working through these changes can be difficult, but it’s often advised to consult with a medical professional about the matter to get a better idea of what lifestyle and health-related changes a person can make in their life to potentially improve their feelings of discomfort.
It’s good to know that postmenopausal symptoms may be temporary, and the more a person embraces this time of their life, the easier it will be to feel at ease with this new chapter of their life they have entered.