Periods and Menopause

menopause bleedingIf you have ever been surprised by your monthly period arriving three days early or suffered concern the first time that is was several days late, then this article is for you.  Periods and menopause can cause a great deal of concern, unless you are adequately prepared.

Irregular periods and a change in the monthly cycle is a perfectly normal occurrence for women during around four year before and also during menopause.  Although women normally enter menopause in their early 50`s, changes in the monthly cycle can occur anywhere as early as mid 30`s onwards.

Hysterectomy Affects Menopause

If a woman undergoes surgical menopause such as a hysterectomy and her ovaries and womb have been removed, she may find that her period stops almost immediately afterwards.  Also, it may be that other menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and high emotions are more severe than they are as a result of a natural menopause.

Most women will find their periods become irregular as they approach menopause and for some, they may even occur more frequently, before stopping completely quite abruptly.  On the other hand, most women will experience a gradual tapering off and lightening of her monthly cycle before it eventually ceases completely.  In these cases, the time between each period will typically lengthen, for some it can become shorter, but for most women the time will be longer.

Why It Happens

These changes occur due to the altering levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, as they are responsible for the monthly menstrual cycle, as a woman’s uterine lining comes away if she has not become pregnant in that particular cycle.  They are also to blame for affecting our moods and emotions!

Keeping a menstrual diary will enable a woman to keep track of her irregular periods on the approach to menopause.   This knowledge will empower the women as she learns how to handle these changes and makes the necessary adjustment to her lifestyle.  Dealing with irregular periods is inconvenient and frustrating, especially if you are used to your monthly cycle appearing as regular as clockwork.  By keeping a diary, you will be in a better position to notice any recurring patterns that will help you to identify when your next period is due.

Check Your Symptoms

Sometimes women can confuse PMS with menopause, as some of the symptoms are the same.  Mood changes, lethargy, anxiety and, headaches are all symptoms shared by both conditions. If you are in any doubt, speak with your medical professional who will be in the best position to advise you.

While it is necessary to deal with these changes as they occur, do remember that this is all a natural process of your body preparing itself for menopause.  It is possible that some women will positively welcome menopause, especially if they suffer from menstrual problems such as cramps or heavy periods. If you are not one of these women, then the best thing that you can do is to give yourself time to adjust and surround yourself with strong circle of friends and family.  They will be invaluable in the times when you need support, cheering up or even a shoulder to cry on when those hormones start raging.

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Hysterectomy Menopause

menopause and hysterectomyWomen all know the approximate age that the menopause starts is in the early 50`s.  We also have an idea of what symptoms we can expect, but what happens if you have had a hysterectomy.  How does a hysterectomy menopause and its symptoms differ?

Just as there are different types of hysterectomy available, there are various possibilities about the outcome.  No guarantees can be given about how each woman will react mentally, physically or emotionally.

Normally, when a woman reaches menopause, the ovaries will cease egg production and the monthly cycle will become less frequent until it stops completely.  After twelve months without a period, the woman is said to be post menopausal.

Reasons A Hysterectomy May Be Recommended

A hysterectomy may be recommended for a number of reasons:  Heavy or painful periods that cannot be controlled by any other means, fibroids, endometriosis, prolapse, malignant changes of the uterus or cervix.  If you are considering a hysterectomy, take the time to discuss all options with your doctor and your family and ask as many questions as you wish.  This is an emotional procedure for a woman to go through and she must be absolutely certain that she is psychologically prepared.

Different Types Of Hysterectomy

With a hysterectomy operation, if the ovaries and the uterus are removed, menopausal symptoms are likely to begin almost immediately.  As well as the reduction in the estrogen level, there is also fifty per cent decrease in testosterone production.  Some women may be recommended testosterone as well as estrogen replacement.  However studies are still being carried out as to its suitability for certain women and therefore testosterone is not routinely recommended following removal of the ovaries.

If one ovary remains, early menopause may occur, but more often than not, it doesn`t.

Should both ovaries remain intact after a hysterectomy, they will still be producing hormones and so you will experience no symptoms of menopause.  You may begin menopause a little earlier, but as all cases are different, no-one can say for certain.

In this case, it is important that you visit your doctor or health professional on an annual basis for blood tests.  This is because, due to the lower levels of estrogen, the ovaries may stop functioning correctly.  You may not be aware of this, but the blood test will highlight if this is so and diagnose if an early menopause is therefore likely.

After Care Support

It is also important that a solid support system is in place and each person involved understands what the woman is going through.  A hysterectomy can have a huge emotional impact on a womans` life.  Unlike experiencing a natural menopause, where she would have had the time to adjust to her body`s changes, a hysterectomy menopause takes away that luxury.  It is therefore vital that everyone close to her is sensitive to the situation and offers her full support as and when required.  It will take her a while get used to her new situation and she will probably be quite emotional for some time afterwards.

For more information, watch this video on hysterectomy menopause

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Menopause Spotting

menopause spottingQuestion: How many women do you think experience menopausal bleeding?

a) 5-15%

b) 20-30%

c) 35-45%

If you chose C – go to to top of the class.  Up to 30% suffer from spotting and/or bleeding between periods.

What Is  Menopause Spotting?

Experiencing spots of blood – of various shades of red – between your monthly menstrual cycles is known as spotting.  During menopause this may be normal, asone of the first symptoms is irregular and erratic periods and is due to the body slowing down and eventually stopping its production of estrogen. As your body experiences so many changes, it is going to behave differently until it adjusts to its new situation.menopause spotting

It is only when a woman goes for one year with no bleeding – menopause spotting included – that the arrival of menopause is confirmed.  If at any time during those twelve months she exhibits any signs of spotting at all, then the count will have to begin again from that date.  It is a good idea to keep a diary of how long it is from the last signs of a bleed, so that the time of entering menopause is as accurate as possible.

What Is Normal?

Just like periods and menopause every woman varies with the timing of her monthly cycle.  Some women can pinpoint to the exact day when they will begin bleeding and others may vary several days from month to month.  In the same way, each experience of menopause varies.  For some, menopause spotting just prior to a period may be normal, while others will have no warning signs at all and their period will begin suddenly.

Perhaps you have periods regularly for a few months and then have no periods for the next few months, before starting normally again a month later.


A change in pattern of the monthly cycle is one of the first signs of menopause


With regards to menopause spotting, blood show and what is normal, experiencing any sign of bleeding when you are not close to your monthly cycle, is not usual and should be reported to your doctor.  It is difficult to recognize sometimes as periods become more erratic close to menopause, but in any case, spotting when your period is not due should be taken seriously.  It may be nothing to worry about, but it is always preferable to err on the side of caution.

spotting during menopauseIf your periods become so heavy that you must constantly change your tampon or sanitary towel, report this too.  On the other hand, if you find that the flow has become especially light and you always had quite a heavy flow previously, mention this to your doctor.

When Can You Expect  Spotting To Stop?

I`ve been spotting for about 18 months and I can`t wait for it to stop – I don`t know where I am anymore – I`m just waiting for somebody to invent a `cure`!

Spotting is completely normal during menopause, but it should be worth noting that it can on rare occasions be a sign of something more serious.  Such as:

  • Uterine fibroids
  • Pelvic infections
  • Ovarian, uterine or cervical cancer

To summarise, if you notice anything unusual, tell your healthcare professional and get it checked out.  Chances are it is nothing to worry about, but it is always better to check out any changes sooner rather than later.

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