You’re finally on the other side. It’s a good place, this. It’s a place where hormones are on their best behaviour, and the hot flushes that used to consume your body have taken a permanent sabbatical. Life’s good, and you ought to thank menopause for it.
Ok, you’re probably looking at the title of this story and wondering why we’re talking about menopause when we should really be talking about postmenopause. And quite honestly, what is the difference?
Menopause, is defined as a single moment in time, when you have gone without your period for twelve months. Postmenopause, on the other hand, is life after menopause; it’s an entire phase you experience after your body has made peace with your lowered hormone levels. Postmenopause is easier than the years leading up to menopause. Still, here are some things you should remember during these golden years:
During perimenopause – the phase just before menopause – your body’s bone reserves start to deplete because of fluctuating hormone levels. By the time postmenopause rolls around, your bones need to be fortified, to protect you from possible diseases like osteoporosis and heart disease. There’s no reason to be worried though – If you make the right dietary and lifestyle changes now, you can effectively ward off health risks. Also, make sure that you take supplements for calcium, vitamin B and vitamin D – those capsules are elixirs for a better life. Truly.
Menopause isn’t a switch that goes off in your head, that halts all kinds of hormonal upheavals. It’s a gradual process, and in some women, the hot flushes, weight gain, insomnia and stress might spill over into your postmenopausal years. There’s no standard protocol for menopause. Your experience may be completely different from your sister’s or mother’s. Eventually, these symptoms will wane. Speak to you doctor if you feel that your postmenopause is turning out to be a sequel of your perimenopausal days. There’s always a way to work past the symptoms.
The urinary kind, yes. Postmenopause can do that to you, thanks to lowered levels of progesterone and oestrogen. You see, these wonderful hormones – the same ones that threw you into a vortex of hot flushes and weighing scale woes – can be helpful. They help to keep the urethra, bladder and pelvic muscles healthy and strong. And as their levels lower, urinary incontinence becomes a possibility.
Your vagina has probably had a good run over the years. And postmenopause is its way of taking a break. It will become less elastic, and drier, making sex more cumbersome, and more painful. Also, during this time, your body will start producing less vaginal mucus than it did before, causing vaginal dryness. Vaginal lubricants can help make sex easier, and topical oestrogen can help to alleviate the hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms (speak to a doctor). It is unusual for the vagina to bleed after menopause – if it does, it could be a result of inflammation or a swollen womb lining. Neither of these are a cause for concern – they’re both minor – but if your bleeding endures longer than usual, meet a doctor to understand what your body is trying to tell you.
The years leading up to menopause can be rather tiresome, with your energy levels taking a dip. Postmenopause, however, will restore them. You’ll feel livelier and more energetic than before, so you can make up for lost time.
If you’ve gone through a full year without the slightest hint of a period, you’ve achieved menopause. And that means, your baby-making abilities are probably a thing of the past. Regardless, if you’re sexually active, it’s wise to continue using contraceptives until you know for sure. A medical test can ascertain your menopausal stage – meet a doctor to sign, seal and deliver your menopausal verdict.
Just like perimenopause and the many life stages and phases that you’ve experienced, the antidote for postmenopause is good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. The changes your body goes through are governed exclusively by hormones. And healthy living makes for a healthy hormonal composition. Especially during postmenopause. If you’ve just stepped into your postmenopausal days, welcome! There’s a reason these years are known as the golden years. Enjoy them to the fullest.
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