After the Menopause
What is the postmenopause?
This is the stage of every woman's life that follows the menopause, or her last menstrual period.
A woman is definitely postmenopausal when she has not had a period for at least a year. Most women in the UK go through the menopausal transition between the ages of 45 and 55, with the average age of the last menstrual period being about 52.
After the menopause the ovaries cease to produce the main female hormone, oestrogen, and its absence can produce a wide range of symptoms including the below; In the long-term lack of oestrogen may predispose many women to osteoporosis.
- hot flushes
- night sweats
- emotional changes
Many women also experience urogenital problems in the years after the menopause. Urogenital problems include the following:
- Urogenital atrophy - Vaginal dryness
- Pelvic floor changes and prolapse - For more information on prolapse, please visit our main Prolapse section
- Lower urinary tract symptoms - As they get older many women may find they have problems with their urinary tract (waterworks). Some women may experience OAB leading to problems with urinary urgency. If you would like more information on bladder problems, please visit our main Bladder Problems section.
- Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs) - Commonly called cystitis, this is another form of a "waterworks" problem. A common symptom of Cystitis is a burning pain when passing urine.
Management of urogenital problems
Recognising that these problems are more widespread than most women imagine, and feeling able to talk to friends, family or even to a nurse or doctor about them is one thing, but is there any point?
YES - there are lots of ways to help women with incontinence, prolapse, cystitis and recurrent infections. Either ask your GP to refer you to the Community Continence Advisory Service, a specialist physiotherapist, or the gynaecology department for an expert opinion.
For more information on Post Menopause please read our Post Menopause and Prolapse Advice Sheet.
Many women may have postmenopausal problems which could affect their vulva, vagina and waterworks, but they should not feel ashamed to talk about the subject or even to ask for help. Healthcare Professionals dealing with women at this stage of their lives are very aware of these conditions and their seriousness, as well as the effect they can have on the quality of women's lives and relationships.
You should never be afraid to ask for help, you are not alone and there are many things that can be done to help you. To find out more about symptoms like urgency or stress urinary incontinence, please visit the bladder conditions and symptoms page to look for information.