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Post menopause

7-minute read

Key facts

  • Post-menopause is the stage of life after menopause.
  • During post-menopause, some symptoms such as hot flushes usually become less concerning or disappear altogether.
  • Your risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis naturally increase in post-menopause.
  • Post-menopause is a good time to get important health checks such as a mammogram and pelvic exam.

What is post-menopause?

Post-menopause refers to the stage after the menopause, and marks the end of the reproductive stage of your life.

You may spend up to a third of your life in post-menopause.

Post-menopause officially begins 12 months after your final period (the menopause). The average age of menopause is 51 years. Most Australian women enter menopause between 45 and 60 years of age.

What are the symptoms of post-menopause?

During post-menopause, perimenopausal symptoms such as hot flushes may slowly disappear.

Other symptoms related to your vagina, vulva and urinary system can continue after menopause. These may include:

Your pelvic floor muscles may become weaker, and you may need to urinate (wee) more often.

You may develop urinary incontinence (poor bladder control). This may be:

  • urge incontinence — a sudden urge to wee, followed by an involuntary loss of urine
  • stress incontinence — the loss of urine with coughing, laughing or lifting

You may also get urinary tract infections more often.

CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use the Symptom Checker and find out if you need to seek medical help.

What causes post-menopause?

Usually, menopause happens naturally when your ovaries stop releasing eggs. Menopause symptoms are caused by a drop in the levels of the hormone oestrogen.

If you’ve had an oophorectomy (your ovaries removed) you will go through menopause immediately after surgery.

When should I see my doctor?

See your doctor if you have symptoms that interfere with your daily life or if you are concerned about abnormal vaginal bleeding.

Any abnormal vaginal bleeding needs to be checked by a doctor, to rule out uterine cancer.

Your doctor may also suggest other health checks such as a:

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

How is post-menopause diagnosed?

Post-menopause officially begins 12 months after your final period (the menopause).

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.

How is post-menopause treated?

There are things that you can do to help improve your health post-menopause, such as:

These can all help to lower your risk of chronic disease.

Some females take menopausal hormone therapy or hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Can post-menopause be prevented?

Post-menopause is a life-stage and cannot be prevented.

What are some complications post-menopause?

As you age, your oestrogen levels fall and your risk of chronic diseases increases.

Cardiovascular disease

Your risk of cardiovascular disease increases post-menopause.

There is evidence that menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) can help prevent cardiovascular disease if taken within 10 years of menopause.

It’s also important to keep a healthy lifestyle with:

  • a balanced diet
  • regular exercise
  • not smoking
  • reducing how much alcohol you drink

You may also need to take medicine for high blood pressure or cholesterol.

Bone health and osteoporosis

After menopause, you have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is where your bone tissue breaks down more quickly than it builds up.

The loss of oestrogen due to menopause makes you more susceptible to osteoporosis.

Lifestyle and diet should be your main ways of preserving bone mass after menopause. This means:

  • eating a balanced diet
  • taking regular weight-bearing and resistance exercise
  • not smoking
  • minimising how much alcohol you drink

You should also be sure to include enough calcium in your diet.

Calcium comes from foods such as:

  • dairy
  • canned fish with bones (salmon, sardines and others)
  • almonds
  • tofu
  • leafy green vegetables and legumes

MHT can help stop your bones getting weaker. It is more effective the longer you take it.

Obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes

Many women notice changes to their weight post-menopause. This can be due to changes in your hormones. Your body stores more fat and burns calories less efficiently.

If you gain weight, your risk of developing metabolic syndrome and diabetes may increase.

The best ways to help with weight gain are by:

  • increasing your exercise and activity levels
  • reducing stress
  • eating a healthy diet
  • reducing your alcohol intake

Can I still get pregnant after menopause?

You can still get pregnant during perimenopause, but not usually after menopause. If you don’t want to become pregnant, you are advised to:

  • females under 50 years, use contraception for 2 years after your last period
  • females over 50 years, use contraception for one year after your last period

Should I continue to get cervical screening?

You should still have a cervical screening test every 5 years until you’re 74 years of age. This helps to prevent cervical cancer or find it earlier.

Changes to your vagina after menopause may mean that cervical screening is uncomfortable. Talk with your doctor about your choices.

Resources and support

For more information and support, you can call the healthdirect helpline on 1800 022 222 (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria). A registered nurse is available to speak with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

To find an Australian doctor who specialises in menopause and healthy ageing, go to the Australasian Menopause Society website.

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Last reviewed: December 2023

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