Postmenopause Symptoms

Healthy Aging, Healthy Living
on August 19, 2011
Think Stock

Menopause has several stages and can span several years during perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause. Postmenopause is the final stage of the process and has some distinct symptoms that you may experience.

Rise in cholesterol. During postmenopause, estrogen levels bottom out, resulting in a rise in bad cholesterol, known as LDLs, and a drop in good cholesterol, also called HDLs. Because of this, major lifestyle changes such as altering your diet or maintaining an active exercise regimen should be discussed with your physician. If changes in cholesterol are severe, your doctor may recommend cholesterol medication or hormone replacement therapy.

Loss of bone density. Estrogen is the hormone that promotes bone growth and strength. After menopause, when estrogen levels remain low, women may experience bone loss and a bone density disorder called osteoporosis. Because of these potentially detrimental changes, postmenopausal women should make sure they are getting adequate amounts of calcium and Vitamin D to prevent bone fractures. The National Institutes of Health reports that nearly 50 percent of women over the age of 50 will experience a bone break or fracture.

Incontinence. One of the most embarrassing symptoms of postmenopause is the possibility of incontinence. The muscles and skin in your genital area get weaker, allowing urine to leak unexpectedly on occasion. Your skin may also get drier, which could cause sex to become uncomfortable. Artificial lubricants should help with this symptom.

Memory and cognition. After menopause, women may experience issues with memory due to lack of estrogen. According to a study published by the University of California, memory and cognition get temporarily worse during menopause, but should improve during postmenopause.

Drugs and hormone replacement therapy. The best way to treat postmenopausal symptoms is with hormone replacement therapy, according to the National Institutes of Health. There are some drawbacks to continuing estrogen, including an increase in risk of serious illnesses like breast cancer. The Federal Drug Administration recommends that women take the lowest dose of estrogen for the shortest time span possible to deal with menopausal symptoms. Other drugs specifically developed to treat symptoms of postmenopause like loss of bone density can help manage symptoms without the same drawbacks.