Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycles and fertility. It is officially diagnosed when a woman has not had a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months. This happens because the ovaries no longer release eggs and produce much less estrogen and progesterone, two hormones needed for fertility.
“Postmenopause” refers to the period of a woman’s life that comes after the menopause transition is complete, i.e., after those 12 months without a menstrual period. Postmenopause typically refers to the rest of a woman’s life after menopause.
During menopause, women can experience various symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, sleep disturbances, vaginal dryness, and changes in sexual desire. These symptoms can be caused by fluctuating and then decreasing levels of estrogen.
In postmenopause, hormone levels have typically leveled out at a low level. Some symptoms may persist or begin during postmenopause, such as vaginal dryness or changes in sexual desire. Additionally, due to the lower levels of estrogen, postmenopausal women have an increased risk of certain conditions such as osteoporosis and heart disease.
In summary, menopause refers to the transition period leading to the end of menstruation and fertility, while postmenopause is the period of life after menopause has occurred. However, both periods are part of the overall menopausal transition, and the exact timing and experience can vary widely among individuals. Always consult with a healthcare provider for personal medical advice.