What Happens to My Period During Menopause?

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Getting a period is normal for women, just like menopause. There are hormones involved during the different stages of menopause. During the perimenopausal stage (the beginning of menopause) changes will happen to a woman’s body, some changes are subtle, and some are not so subtle. Oestrogen levels fluctuate during menopause which will cause menopausal symptoms and increase health risks such as osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. It is important to speak to a healthcare professional about what supplements to take during menopause to prevent these health risks. 

 

Perimenopause: Signs of Menopause During Your Period

Perimenopause is the time (months or years) leading up to menopause. Symptoms to be aware of during this time which will indicate menopause is close are the following:

  • Irregular periods
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Hot flushes
  • Night sweats
  • Problems falling asleep and staying asleep
  • Mood changes
  • Slow metabolism and gaining weight
  • Dry skin and thinning of hair

 

Each woman has a unique experience during their menstrual cycle. Some women have a light flow, other women will have a heavy flow. Some women will skip a month or more before their next cycle and other women will get their cycle every 3 weeks. When it comes to hormones, there is no on-size-fits-all experience or management. Each body is unique and will function differently. That is why it is important to seek professional help when necessary so that healthcare providers can address your unique situation and recommend the best possible treatment for your specific condition. 

 

I’ve Stopped Getting My Period-  What Does This Mean?

When a woman stops getting her period, most of the time it is an indication of pregnancy or menopause. Once ovulation no longer occurs, the menstrual cycle stops. Some women might still experience breakthrough bleeding during pregnancy.

 

Focusing on Menopause

Menopause is defined as 12 consecutive months without a period. There are 3 stages when it comes to menopause. Menopause is the second stage. Perimenopause is the first stage and can last for up to 4 – 7 years. Each woman will have a different experience during this stage. The last stage is post-menopause which will last for the rest of a woman’s life. 

 

Bleeding During the Transition Phase of Menopause 

Most woman going through menopause think of it as an end for them of getting their monthly cycles. However, it is not uncommon for women to experience prolonged bleeding for 10 or more days during the transition phase of menopause. Some women will have spotting (breakthrough bleeding) for six or more days and some will have a heavy flow for three or more days during transition. The menopausal transition phase normally occurs during a woman’s 40’s. It is advised to seek medical help when the menopausal transition phase starts. So that healthcare providers can inform patients of what bleeding changes to expect. Guidance can be given to women to help them understand what changes in their monthly cycle are normal and what changes need medical attention. 

 

Should I Be Concerned If I Bleed After Menopause?

Bleeding after menopause is unusual, it is recommended to seek professional health care when this happens. 

Post-menopausal bleeding can be an indication of:

  • Cancer of the uterus, cervix, or vagina
  • Uterine fibroids or uterine polyps, which are benign growths (not cancer) 
  • Infection of the uterine lining
  • It can be caused by tamoxifen or other hormone medications
  • Injury during sexual assault or abuse
  • Bleeding of the rectum or urinary tract. Can also sometimes be a serious urinary tract infection
  • Endometrial hyperplasia, when the uterus lining grows very thick

Bleeding post-menopause could be harmless, or it can be an indication of a more serious condition. This is why it is important to visit a gynaecologist regularly.

 

What Will My Last Period Be Like Before Menopause?

There will not be clear signs or symptoms to indicate the last period before menopause. It is not always evident for a woman that it will be her final period. Some women might experience small changes in their flow during their menstrual cycle, it will either become more heavy or lighter. Ovulation becomes unpredictable once menopause is nearby. This can influence the length of time between periods, it can be longer or shorter. One of the signs of early perimenopause is having consistent changes in the length of your period. 

 

How Long Is Too Long For a Period During Menopause?

Menstrual cycles during perimenopause can last as long as 38 days or more. Longer periods are common during perimenopause, but if bleeding lasts longer than usual it is better to seek professional medical advice. The colour of blood for each period might also be different, some women will see they have a more blackish colour in their period, and other women will have a more brownish colour. 

 

Colour of Period Blood

The colour of period blood should be normal. Darker/brown blood means that it is older blood leaving the body. Bright red blood means that is new “fresh” blood leaving the body during a period. Blood sometimes stays in the uterus longer and goes through a phase called oxidation (reducing oxygen levels). This will cause the blood to change colour from red to brown. 

 

How To Cope With Period Changes During Menopause?

Period changes and perimenopause can interfere with normal day-to-day life events. Most perimenopause symptoms are unpredictable, so it is advised to plan your day. For example, wear light clothing for when a hot flush appears, take extra tampons/pads when travelling and drink alcoholic beverages in moderation. 

Additional treatments and lifestyle changes:

  • Exercise regularly, even when it is just a 30-minute brisk walk outside. 
  • Stop smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight (gaining weight is one of the menopausal symptoms)
  • Use a lubricant during sexual intercourse
  • Consider hormone replacement therapy
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