Menopause and nausea and dizziness

Does menopause cause dizziness?

Researchers are still not clear about the link between dizziness and menopause. Here are some possible explanations:

Hormonal changes

Share on PinterestChanges in hormone levels may be a cause of dizziness during perimenopause.

Menopause symptoms appear during perimenopause, the transition to menopause. This phase begins when periods become irregular.

Perimenopause lasts 4 to 8 years until menstruation has completely stopped for a year and menopause is complete. Women typically reach menopause between age 40 and 58.

During perimenopause, the ovaries decrease their productions of estrogen and progesterone, the hormones responsible for maintaining the reproductive system.

These hormones also play a role in the activity of other organs, including the brain, the heart, and the pancreas.

Sudden drops and changes in fertility hormone levels can lead to dizziness by impacting the following:

The inner ear

The brain senses balance through the otoconia, an organ of the inner ear made up of tiny crystals called otoliths.

At least one study demonstrates a link between estrogen loss and a weakening of the otoconia in females experiencing benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), a disorder defined by episodes of dizziness that occur during movement.

Metabolism

The body’s metabolic system breaks down food into simple sugars called glucose and delivers it to cells, which use the glucose for energy. Estrogen plays a role in maintaining this process.

When the body’s estrogen levels drop, cells throughout the body may not receive enough glucose. This can lead to fatigue and dizziness.

The heart

Hormonal changes during menopause can also lead to heart palpitations, where the heart seems to pound or skip a beat. The irregular heartbeats can trigger dizziness.

The brain

Estrogen helps the brain understand the body’s position in its surrounding environment.

When estrogen levels fall, the brain may become disoriented, leading to a feeling of imbalance or spinning.

Aging

The aging process can cause the inner ear and other body systems to stop working as well as they used to.

This loss of function may be made worse by the hormonal changes associated with menopause.

Indirect causes

Dizziness is sometimes a symptom of a menopause-related condition, rather than a direct symptom of menopause.

Changes in fertility hormones can trigger the following conditions, leading to dizziness:

Insomnia

Hormonal changes associated with menopause can disrupt sleep, causing an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep for a full 7 to 8 hours.

Chronic difficulty sleeping, known as insomnia, can hinder brain functions, leading to dizziness.

Hot flashes

Around 75 percent of women in the United States experience hot flashes during perimenopause, where a hot feeling temporarily spreads throughout the face, neck, and upper body.

Hot flashes usually happen during the first 6 months to 2 years of perimenopause and can continue to occur for up to 10 years. Dizziness and disorientation can result from hot flashes.

Migraines

One study found that menopause may encourage epigone migraine vertigo, a migraine headache accompanied by episodes of dizziness.

Anxiety and stress

Worry and panic can increase during menopause due to hormonal changes or midlife events, such as concerns about aging and taking care of elderly parents.

Anxious feelings can culminate in a panic attack, which may include dizziness as a symptom.

Menopause

Living with menopause is easier for some women than others. It depends on the severity of your symptoms. Use these tips to help ease symptoms and to learn more about how to deal with menopause.

Should I avoid certain foods or drinks during menopause?

If you have hot flashes, you may want to avoid spicy or hot foods and drinks. These can trigger hot flashes. Alcohol can trigger hot flashes, too. It also interferes with bone growth and calcium absorption. Women who are going through menopause should avoid or limit alcohol.

Can my diet affect how well I sleep?

The following tips can help reduce sleep problems:

  • Eat regular meals at regular times.
  • Avoid late-night meals and heavy late-night snacks.
  • Limit caffeine, which is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and cola drinks. Caffeine stays in the bloodstream for up to 6 hours and can interfere with sleep.
  • Avoid alcohol. It may make you feel sleepy, but it actually affects the cycle of REM and non-REM sleep. This may cause you to wake up throughout the night.

Help for hot flashes

  • Turn your thermostat down. Sleep in a cool room.
  • Dress in layers, so you can remove clothing when you get too warm.
  • Wear cotton and other natural fabrics that “breathe” so you don’t get overheated. Use cotton sheets on your bed.
  • Drink cool water or other beverages when a hot flash starts.
  • Get plenty of exercise.
  • Find out what triggers your hot flashes and avoid them. Spicy foods, alcohol, tight clothing, and hot, humid weather are some common triggers.

How does menopause affect bone health?

The older a woman is, the greater her risk of osteoporosis. A woman’s risk becomes even greater when she goes through menopause. When your estrogen level decreases during menopause, you lose more bone than your body can replace. This makes your bones weaker and more likely to break. To keep your bones strong, it’s important to get enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet. These help your body absorb calcium. Your doctor can suggest ways to get more calcium through food, drink, and, possibly, a calcium supplement. He or she may also suggest that you take a vitamin D supplement to help your body process calcium. Ask your doctor what amount of daily calcium and vitamin D is right for you.

In general, women 30 to 50 years of age need 1,000 mg of calcium each day. Women older than 50 years of age need 1,200 mg of calcium each day. Milk, yogurt, and other dairy foods are good sources of calcium. Soybeans, broccoli, and tofu are, too. Women 30 to 70 years of age usually need at least 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D each day. Women older than 70 years of age need at least 800 IU of vitamin D each day. Fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, are a good source of vitamin D.

How does menopause affect heart health?

Women are more likely to develop heart disease after menopause. Lower estrogen levels may be part of the cause. It also could be that other health issues that are more common as women get older. These include gaining weight, becoming less active, and developing high blood pressure or diabetes. You can reduce your risk of these health problems by eating a variety of healthy, nutrient-rich foods. It also helps to stay active and maintain an appropriate weight.

How does menopause affect iron levels in my blood?

If you are still having periods as you go through menopause, you may continue to be at risk of a low iron level. This is especially true if your bleeding is heavy or you spot between periods. This can lead to anemia. Eating at least 3 servings of iron-rich foods a day will help you get enough iron in your diet. Good sources of iron include spinach, beans, and meat. Your doctor may also suggest that you take an iron supplement.

What to do About Dizziness During Menopause

July 12th, 2018

Simple steps to relieve dizziness and vertigo

Have you found yourself feeling lightheaded, off-kilter, unbalanced, disorientated, weak, woozy, or dizzy? Does it seem like the world is spinning or whirling around you? Though these sensations may last just a few seconds at a time, episodes of dizziness and/or vertigo can be very upsetting and disruptive to your daily routine. And if they happen to strike at just the wrong time, they could even be dangerous, increasing your risk of a fall or accident.

What Causes Dizziness?

There are three main balance control systems in the body:

  • Eyes: Visual input is essential for informing the brain of the body’s position in space.
  • Inner Ears: The labyrinth inside the inner ear is made up of loop-shaped canals containing fluid and sensory hair cells. By monitoring the movement of the fluid, the sensory cells help to determine how the body needs to move to stay balanced.
  • Sensory Nerves: Skin, muscles, and joints all contain nerves that communicate information about the body’s location and movement to the brain.

When any one of these balance control systems is not working optimally, there is a potential for dizziness or vertigo. If two or more systems are not working or if the brain cannot process their signals properly, symptoms are virtually guaranteed.

Hormonal changes can affect the body’s balance control systems, as well as cause or contribute to other symptoms that can cause sensations of vertigo or dizziness. Such symptoms include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Migraines
  • Anxiety
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low blood sugar
  • Heart problems

Managing Dizziness During Menopause

The good news is, dizziness during menopause can be controlled with a few simple steps such as:

Lifestyle Changes: Poor nutrition, dehydration, and inactivity can make menopausal dizziness worse. For many women, correcting these issues with lifestyle changes can greatly reduce dizziness. Start by adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet. In addition to being rich in nutrients, fruits and veggies contain plenty of water to help you stay hydrated. Exercises targeting the upper body and head, as well as eye exercises to help improve vision, will also be very helpful in improving balance and reducing dizziness.

Trigger Avoidance: Episodes of dizziness can be triggered by things like standing up too fast, eating too much salt, smoking, and not getting enough sleep. By avoiding these kinds of triggers, dizziness and vertigo can be reduced.

Hormone Therapy: Declining estrogen during menopause can cause dizziness by affecting the blood vessels and nervous system, as well as by causing symptoms like hot flashes, anxiety, and insomnia. Hormone replacement therapy can safely restore optimal levels of estrogen and other hormones to the body, which will help improve all these symptoms.

When to See a Doctor

For most women, a visit to the doctor is not necessary to treat dizziness at menopause. However, if you are having other symptoms such as fainting, chest pain, trouble breathing, changes in speech or vision, or hearing loss, you should see a doctor as your dizziness may stem from a problem other than hormone decline.

To learn more about treating dizziness and other menopause symptoms with hormone therapy, contact Renew Youth today.

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Dizziness or vertigo can be extremely unsettling even after the sensation has passed.

What does dizziness in menopause feel like?

The sensation of dizziness for menopausal women can be a feeling that everything is spinning, or a loss of balance or feeling as if you are going to faint. It may occur as the result of another menopause sign such as a panic attack or anxiety, where your breathing and heart rate levels become rapid, disturbing the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.

Why does menopause cause dizziness?

The exact cause of dizziness during menopause is unclear but as with so many of the other signs of menopause it would appear it is linked to the hormonal changes that occur during menopause.

As the level of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone change they can have an effect on circulation and blood vessels. The resulting fluctuations in blood pressure can cause dizziness. So too can some of the other signs of menopause such as hot flushes, anxiety and panic attacks which also stem from hormonal imbalances.

Is Dizziness a Symptom of Menopause?

Q1. I am a 50-year-old female going through menopause. I had a complete hysterectomy and have been on HRT since then. I have been having dizzy spells and have had a complete checkup. I’ve heard that dizziness can be a part of menopause – is this true? Why is this, and what can I do to stop the dizziness?

Dizziness, which wasn’t previously talked about as a menopausal symptom, has more recently been found to be associated with menopause. Symptoms such as dizziness and nausea, not traditionally considered menopausal symptoms, have been reported by some women to increase after menopause. However, the link between dizziness and menopause (and dizziness and hormone therapy, for that matter) hasn’t been well studied, and only a weak association has been found so far. Because there isn’t a strong association, such as with hot flashes and night sweats, you can’t assume the dizziness is related to menopause. If this is a new symptom for you, you should see your doctor and have it evaluated because it may be due to some other cause.

Assuming no other cause is found and your dizziness is mild and tolerable, the symptom is probably not dangerous and you don’t need to do much. You can consider some lifestyle changes: For example, be sure to stay well hydrated and get enough sleep — being dehydrated and not sleeping enough can worsen dizziness. Also, be careful when rising from a lying to a standing position. Another thing to consider is whether you’ve started taking any new medication, prescription or over-the-counter. Blood pressure medications, for example, can cause light-headedness and dizziness.

However, if your dizziness is severe, continuing, or a true room-spinning vertigo, be sure to seek further evaluation, especially if it’s worsening. You shouldn’t assume that such a symptom is related to menopause.

Q2. I am 61 years old, and I thought I was finished with menopause when I was 52. However, I am now experiencing symptoms: sweats, headaches, mood changes, insomnia, and so on. I’m wondering whether a drop in hormones over the years might explain this? Otherwise, what would cause it? What can I do? Is it possible to go through menopausal symptoms so many years later?

What you are describing is rare. While it’s true that 8 to 10 percent of women will continue to have hot flashes and night sweats for ten years or more after the onset of menopause, it sounds as if your symptoms improved and then recurred. This is unusual, unless you were on hormone therapy and have now stopped. Women on hormone therapy may experience a recurrence of menopausal symptoms when they go off the therapy, though the symptoms are usually less severe than they were at the start of menopause.

There are also other causes of hot flashes and night sweats, such as some medications (for example, those that lower blood sugar) and underlying health conditions (such as diabetes and thyroid disorders). See your doctor about these possible causes; don’t assume that your symptoms are all related to menopause.

Q3. I am 54 and having severe menopausal symptoms — unbearable, almost painful hot flashes at least 10 to 12 times per day and off and on all night with extreme night sweats. I went to my doctor and have been prescribed 1 mg Estrace (estradiol) and 100 mg Prometrium (progesterone). I have only been on it now for the past week with no relief yet. I am a mess — very teary with horrible back and neck pain. Why are my symptoms so intense? Also, I am taking 15 mg BuSpar (buspirone) twice every day. Any suggestions?

Hot flashes and the sleep deprivation that sometimes accompany them can make life miserable. The good news is that estrogen will make you feel better 80 to 90 percent of the time. But it may take a while. I tell women they will not see the full effect of their estrogen for 10 to 12 weeks. So be patient.

One change you could make is to take your Prometrium in the evening because it can be a little sedating and might help you sleep better. If you aren’t feeling better in a few weeks, talk with your doctor about changing the dose or switching to another form of the medication, such as a patch or gel.

One other thought: Your back and neck pain could be related to fatigue, but these are not typical menopause symptoms.

Q4. Does raloxifene have the same side effects and health risks as hormone replacement therapy?

Raloxifene is a SERM, or selective estrogen receptor modifier. It’s an oral prescription drug marketed under the brand name Evista. It has been designed to have some but not all of the effects of estrogen. So it helps bones, while actually reducing a woman’s chance of breast cancer. (Estrogen increases the risk of breast and uterine cancer.) Unfortunately, like estrogen, it can cause blood clots in veins.

Q5. Is there any kind of estrogen-like pill or food that a menopausal woman who recently had stage I breast cancer can take? I quit my Arimidex after two months of massive hair loss, among other things. I would like to at least take an estrogen cream for vaginal dryness. Women really go through a lot, and the medical field and HMOs just don’t want to deal with it. Please respond.

You are really asking three questions, and they can best be addressed separately.

The relationship between estrogen and breast cancer is complicated and not entirely understood. Most oncologists prefer to minimize a breast cancer survivor’s exposure to estrogen. So estrogen or hormone therapy is not recommended for most women with breast cancer. The question of whether dietary sources of weak estrogens, such as soy, are safe for these women is also uncertain. There are vocal experts on either side of the fence. Nevertheless, there are options to help all women with symptoms from menopause. The North American Menopause Society has a list of menopause practitioners on its Web site, and you can use it to find a clinician with expertise in this area to guide you.

Secondly, hair loss is a very troubling symptom that can be caused by drugs, some diseases, hormone changes or stress. Often the cause of hair loss is not obvious or discernible. It does not sound very likely that the Arimidex (anastrozole) caused hair loss because it takes a couple of months to show up. Often women lose hair after a stressful time in their life. Sometimes hormones play a role. You will need to wait and see what happens. A dermatologist might be able to help you sort out your situation.

Lastly, vaginal dryness a common menopausal complaint. There are many over-the-counter lubricants and moisturizers that can help – Astroglide, Silk E and Replens are examples. Local vaginal estrogen comes in three forms: Estring (estradiol vaginal ring), a flexible ring inserted in the vagina that releases a small amount of estrogen over three months; Vagifem, very low-dose vaginal tablets placed in the vagina twice weekly; and a variety of estrogen creams. These do not send much estrogen into the bloodstream, and most oncologists will approve their use.

Q6. I’m having hot flashes, insomnia, mood swings— the works! My doctor wants me to start taking short-term hormone replacement therapy, but I’d like to try herbs or natural remedies first. Do you have any suggestions?

There is not a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. However, having a healthy lifestyle is an important place to start. Tobacco, alcohol and stress exacerbate mood swings, hot flashes and insomnia. Exercise also has been shown to improve mood, sleep and possibly hot flashes.

Most pharmacies and health food stores have a ton of products for menopause. However, most of them are not well-studied. Proponents claim that plant-derived estrogens, such as those in soy, help with menopause symptoms, but the data is mixed. A Native American herb called black cohosh has also gotten lots of press, and although it seems to help, this is not consistently found in scientific studies.

For more information, I recommend the North American Menopause Society’s Web site. The “Consumer Education” section has helpful brochures on natural remedies for the symptoms of menopause.

Q7. I’m a 52-year-old woman who has suffered from ADHD all my adult life. Can I expect my ADHD symptoms to change as I go through menopause?

Good question! I have never heard this addressed, and a quick survey of the medical literature did not turn anything up.

Your hormones will be more even after menopause, so if you have noticed any worsening of your ADHD symptoms at different times of the menstrual cycle, that should even out. On the other hand, many women notice worsening of memory problems as they pass through menopause and as they age. This could make things worse for you, I imagine, but this is just speculation.

Q8. I am 46 years old and for the past few months I’ve either had two periods a month or none at all. I’ve gained weight and experienced mood swings, depression, severe PMS, fatigue, and even suicidal thoughts. I’ve also developed dry eyes recently, despite drinking lots of water and taking fish oil supplements every day. What’s wrong with me? What should I do?

The symptoms you’re experiencing are most likely due to wide fluctuations in your hormone levels. You’ve probably not gone through menopause since you still are having your period. Talk to your doctor about getting a blood test, like the FSH test, to confirm where you stand regarding menopause.

If you haven’t gone through menopause and your symptoms are disruptive to your daily life, you may be a candidate for low-dose oral contraceptives. This could be an option for a few years to regulate your periods and decrease your symptoms if you don’t have cardiovascular risk factors and are in good health.

You may also be a candidate for SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) antidepressants, which can be helpful for the PMS-type symptoms and for your mood changes. Definitely talk to your doctor as soon as possible to get this medical attention for your symptoms, especially if you’re having suicidal thoughts.

Another idea is to go with lifestyle approaches. You may benefit with regular exercise, for example, as it can help with the weight gain and the mood swings. Try to do at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, as well as strength training.

Learn more in the Everyday Health Menopause Center.

Women’s Wellness: Perimenopause symptoms

Perimenopause symptoms occur as women’s bodies transition.

With summer ending, cooler temperatures are on the way. Yet, your body’s thermostat is set on high. What’s the deal? For many middle-age women, menopause symptoms, such as hot flushes and sleep deprivation, can range from slightly irritating to downright debilitating.

According to the National Institute on Aging, menopause typically occurs between 45 and 55 as part of a normal aging process. The menopausal transition, known as perimenopause, can begin four years before a woman’s final menstrual cycle.

“During perimenopause, women may experience symptoms such as hot flushes, sleep disturbances, mood changes and vaginal dryness,” says Dr. Seanna Thompson, an OB-GYN at Mayo Clinic Health System.

Other physical symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Vertigo (dizziness)
  • Itchy skin
  • Restless legs symptoms
  • Heart palpitations
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Breast tenderness
  • Constipation
  • Bloating
  • Muscle and joint aches

Emotional changes

Emotionally, women encounter fluctuations, as well. “Mood changes can include tearfulness, irritability, anxiety and even panic attacks,” says Dr. Thompson. “These symptoms can last four to five years on average from the first hot flush.”

Symptoms are typically most severe when a woman is still having periods, which can be heavier or lighter during this time. Eventually, she will skip periods for a few months until they stop altogether. A woman is considered postmenopausal if she has not had a period in more than a year.

Easing symptoms

Eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly can go a long way to ease most perimenopausal symptoms, according to Dr. Thompson. “Try to stay cool emotionally and physically, and avoid bright lights and hot beverages,” she says. “A chill pillow, cool sheets, moisture-wicking clothing or personal fan can also be helpful.”

Dr. Thompson offers these suggestions:

  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle to decrease cancer risk and improve cardiac health
  • Minimize alcohol use
  • Stop smoking immediately (Talk with your primary care provider to explore cessation options.)

“The truth is perimenopausal symptoms are very common; they’re typically mild for most women and usually diminish over the course of several years,” says Dr. Thompson. “However, if these symptoms are impacting your quality of life, see your health care provider to discuss your options.”

In This Section

  • Menopause
  • What are the symptoms of menopause?
  • What treatments are there for menopause symptoms?

There are other symptoms of menopause besides changes in your period. Not everyone has the same symptoms. Some people have severe symptoms and others may have very mild ones.

What are common menopause symptoms?

Some common menopause symptoms are:

  • Irregular periods: Periods becoming shorter, longer, heavier, lighter. Skipping periods.

  • Hot flashes: A hot flash is a sudden, sometimes intense feeling of heat that rushes to your face and upper body. Hot flashes can be really uncomfortable, but they usually only last a few minutes. They can happen a few times a day, a few times a week, or a few times a month.

  • Night sweats: Hot flashes that wake you up in the middle of the night.

  • Sleep problems: You may have insomnia — trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. You may also start to wake up much earlier than you used to.

  • Vaginal changes: The lining of your vagina may become thinner, drier, or less stretchy. This can cause dryness or discomfort during sex.

  • Urinary or bladder infections: You may have to pee more often or get more frequent urinary tract or bladder infections.

  • Mood changes: Hormone changes can make you feel anxious, irritable, and tired. Your sex drive might change, too.

  • Weaker bones: Your bones will probably weaken during menopause. If it’s really bad, it can lead to osteoporosis after menopause. Getting plenty of calcium and vitamin D, and exercising for at least 30 minutes most days of the week can help you maintain bone health.

Some people may have a long and difficult perimenopause, up to 10–12 years. But most people find that the common menopause symptoms (like mood changes and hot flashes) are temporary and only last 3–5 years.

A few common menopause symptoms (like vaginal dryness and changes in sex drive) may continue or even get worse when menopause is over. Your doctor or nurse can talk with you about treatment if you have symptoms that bother you.

What are hot flashes?

Hot flashes can be a pretty unpleasant symptom of perimenopause and menopause. We don’t totally understand the cause of hot flashes.

Most people describe a hot flash as a sudden hot feeling that spreads all over your body — but mostly the upper body, like your arms, chest, and face. You may also get sweaty, and your fingers may tingle and your heart may beat faster. A typical hot flash usually lasts anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes.

Hot flashes at night are called night sweats. Sometimes they can get so severe that you soak your sheets with sweat.

Hot flashes are super common. More than 3 out of 4 people have them while going through perimenopause and menopause.

Nothing will make hot flashes stop completely, but there are some things you can do to help get some relief. Wearing light, loose clothes, keeping your room cool, drinking cold liquids, and avoiding alcohol and caffeine can help you stay cool.

Prescription hot flash treatments can be helpful, too. Hormone therapy works best to treat hot flashes, but other medicines like SSRIs and SNRIs (antidepressants) and clonidine (blood pressure medicine) may also help. Research shows that herbs, vitamins, acupuncture, and reflexology don’t help with hot flashes.

Can menopause affect my sex drive?

Yes, menopause can affect your sex drive — but it doesn’t mean your sex life is over.

Dealing with the physical and emotional symptoms of menopause can make you feel less sexual desire. The symptoms can also affect your sleep and lower your energy — which might make you not so into sex. Vaginal dryness and decreased sensation can also feel like a turn-off. It’s also normal to feel a range of emotions, including anxiety, sadness, or loss while going through menopause.

If you lose interest in sex during this time, it’ll probably come back when your symptoms stop.

A pretty common symptom that can affect your sexual desire is vaginal dryness, which can make sex uncomfortable or even painful.

For symptoms that affect your sex life, trying one or more of these things can help:

  • Use water- or silicone-based lube when you have sex. You can buy lube at most drugstores or online.

  • Give your yourself more time to feel aroused. Moisture from being aroused protects sensitive tissues.

  • Have sex and/or masturbate more often. This increases blood flow to your vagina, which helps keep your vaginal tissue healthy.

  • Practice pelvic floor exercises (aka Kegel exercises). They can make the muscles used in orgasm stronger and can help with bladder leaks. Ask your doctor or nurse about how to do these exercises.

  • Ask about prescription hormone medicines. Estrogen creams, tablets, or rings may help with dryness if you find that lube isn’t enough. These products can help you enjoy sex during menopause and after.

  • Talk with your partner. Being open about your feelings and what menopause is like for you helps you connect more with your partner, and may take the pressure off of you to have sex if you don’t feel like it.

Some people may actually find that they want to have sex MORE after menopause, because they don’t have to worry about getting pregnant. This may give you a sense of freedom to enjoy a renewed and exciting sex life.

Remember that even though you don’t need birth control after menopause, you can still get or pass on STDs. Use condoms and dental dams to protect yourself and get tested regularly if you have new sexual partners.

Menopause is a natural biological process. And while it marks the end of your ability to get pregnant, it definitely doesn’t have to be the end of your sexuality.

What other life changes affect menopause?

Menopause can be a rough time. In addition to the symptoms that may be tough to deal with, a lot of stressful life changes can happen around the same time as perimenopause and menopause.

Some changes you may go through during this time in your life include:

  • anxiety about illness, aging, and death

  • anxiety about the future, getting older, and losing independence

  • anxiety about being disabled

  • changes in family, social, and personal relationships

  • changes in identity or body image

  • children leaving home

  • getting divorced or losing a partner

  • having a partner become ill or disabled

  • more responsibility for grandchildren

  • loss of loved ones

  • changes in your financial situation

  • retirement

These kinds of things can be overwhelming. You may want to talk to a friend, partner, or therapist about what’s going on. And you may want to spend time with some other people who are going through menopause and experiencing the same things. The point is, you’re not alone.

More questions from patients:

What are post menopause symptoms?

Postmenopause is the time in your life after you go through menopause. When you haven’t gotten your period for over 12 months (a year), you’re officially postmenopausal. For most people, many of the symptoms they had during perimenopause/menopause (like hot flashes and mood swings) last a few years — and then they fade once you’re in postmenopause.

But a few common menopause symptoms may continue or get worse when menopause is over — like vaginal dryness and changes in your sex drive. You may also be more at risk for certain health conditions. Most of these happen because your body is making less estrogen.

Here are some things that can happen/continue after menopause:

Vaginal dryness and changes in your sexual function

Your vagina may make less moisture, and your vaginal tissue can get thinner and less stretchy. This can make vaginal sex uncomfortable or painful, and/or cause a little bit of bleeding. Your libido (sex drive) may also go down. And you may have vaginal infections and irritation (like vaginitis) more often.

Over-the-counter vaginal moisturizers and lubricants can help ease dryness and make sex more comfortable. Your doctor may also prescribe a vaginal pill, cream, or ring that has estrogen in it — this is called local estrogen therapy. The estrogen helps restore your vaginal lining and increase moisture.

Incontinence and Urinary Problems

Changes in your pelvic tissue (like your vagina and urethra) can lead to:

  • Frequent, strong urges to pee.

  • Not being able to control or hold your urine (this is called incontinence).

  • Leaking urine when you cough, laugh, or lift something heavy (called stress incontinence).

  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Doing kegel exercises to make your pelvic muscles stronger, and using vaginal estrogen creams can help with urinary problems.

Higher risk of heart attacks/strokes

The estrogen your body makes throughout your life before menopause protects against heart attack and stroke. When your estrogen levels go down during and after menopause, your risk for heart and blood vessel problems goes up. Heart disease is the most common cause of death, so it’s important to take care of your heart health. Get regular exercise, eat well, maintain a healthy weight, and watch your cholesterol and blood pressure. Talk to a doctor or nurse for help managing these risks.

Higher risk of osteoporosis

As people get older, bones are broken down faster than they’re made. After age 35, it’s normal to lose small amounts of bone density over time. But this loss happens faster during the first 4-8 years after menopause because you don’t have as much estrogen in your body. This makes you more likely to get osteoporosis. Osteoporosis makes you more likely to break or fracture bones — your hips, wrists, and spine are usually the most at risk.

If you have postmenopause symptoms that bother you, or you’re worried about the risks during and after menopause, talk to your doctor or visit your local Planned Parenthood health center. There are treatments available that can help you stay healthy and feel more comfortable.

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