Unfortunately no, as a recent study has shown that a much higher proportion of ‘older’ women (average age 59 in this study) than was expected still suffer from hot flushes and night sweats, well after menopause is assumed to be over. Post-menopause other factors as well as your hormones can be at work, and stress or anxiety and emotional issues are all factors that can affect hormones.
When are you post menopausal?
I hear women telling me they are post menopause who have not had a period for 3-4 months, but technically it is defined as having no periods for 12 months, not less than that. However the age at which you become post menopause varies enormously due to individual circumstances. A natural menopause occurs generally from age 50 to 60 plus and is caused by the same hormonal changes and external factors that cause the other stages of menopause – that is our old friends progesterone and oestrogen levels.
This is normally a gradual process, but women who have had a ‘forced’ menopause through illness or surgery for a hysterectomy can go immediately into post menopause with no natural transition period.
Symptoms that be experienced post menopause are unfortunately very much the same as were experienced during menopause itself. These include:
– Hot flushes
– Stress incontinence
– Urinary tract infections
– Vaginal dryness and itching
– Weight gain
How to help yourself
The first thing to remember is that you are not alone as more women post menopause are reporting symptoms of oestrogen dominance such as hot flushes so make sure you are aware if you still have such symptoms. Exactly the same elements that help you at menopause are also appropriate post menopause. These include good hormone balance, exercise, a healthy diet specifically for post menopause and containing all the essential nutrients to protect heart and bones. Most importantly, stress reduction plays a vital role, and seems to be particularly true for hot flushes which women in the 70’s and 80’s may still be experiencing as life circumstances can make them ‘hot and bothered’ – as can food sensitivities which can also be more common as we get older. For these reasons it is worth paying attention to reducing stress as much as possible.
Dr Tony Coope has suggested that post menopause emotional factors can be crucial and that if you really pay attention when you are having a flush, you may become aware that there is an emotion always present underneath the physical symptoms, an emotion that has the power to instantly cause a flush or sweat. This would not be the same for every woman, nor may it be the same one every time – it could be fear, anger, shame, self-criticism, regret and a number of other, less obvious feelings so again it is worth monitoring your response to your symptoms to see if you can identify what may be behind them.