One benefit of hitting menopause should be that you no longer experience the dreaded pain of menstruating, right? Riiiiight?
Well, we hate to be the bearers of some awful news here, but cramps after menopause happen.
To understand this, let’s go back to the beginning.
Although it can be uncomfortable, period pain is actually the result of a remarkable process.
Every month, your uterus prepares itself for pregnancy by building up its lining (called the endometrium). If a fertilized egg doesn’t make its way to your uterus, the lining decides to hit the road.
For this to happen, the muscles of your womb expand and contract. Lipids called prostaglandins help with this process.
The shedding of the endometrium can cause some discomfort—or worse—in the form of period pain.
(Fun fact: the medical term for period pain? Dysmenorrhea. In case you need to whip that out at Trivia Night.)
So what happens if your period has come to a permanent end and you are still experiencing menstrual cramps after menopause? Are menopause cramps a thing?
In some cases, menstrual-like cramps after menopause are nothing to worry about. In others, they may signal that something else is up.
So what causes cramps after menopause? Let’s dive in.
In this article: 📝
- Is cramping during menopause normal?
- Can you still get menstrual symptoms after menopause?
- What are the symptoms of fibroids after menopause?
Is cramping during menopause normal?
“Normal” is an interesting word when it comes to our bodies.
There’s no one-size-fits-all to this thing.
So rather than ask if cramps after menopause are “normal,” we are going to ask whether they can be harmful to you.
Can your ovaries hurt after menopause?
For starters, let’s take a look at what menopause actually is.
As the name suggests, it’s all about your menstruating life being put on (permanent) pause. The official date? Twelve months after your last period.
But rather than understand menopause as a single moment in time, it’s more useful to see it as a chapter in your life brought on by hormonal shifts in your body.
With a decrease in the production of estrogen and progesterone can come a range of different symptoms.
These include, among a long list of many others, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood shifts.
Can you still get menstrual symptoms after menopause?
While we define menopause as a point on a timeline, its significance in our lives typically spans a few years.
In this study, for example, symptoms were typically felt for a period of about seven years over the transition, and existed on average for about four and a half years after the final menstrual period.
So, yes, generally, menstrual symptoms can and do last for a number of years after your period has had its swansong.
(That doesn’t mean you simply have to battle through them. Seek help from healthcare providers. Lean on your community. Join the conversation on Peanut. We’re better together.)
As your periods start to slow down, you may experience pain in your lower back and abdomen.
In many cases, this may be nothing to worry about and simply part of moving from one life phase to another.
And then, sometimes, ovarian pain after menopause can mean something else. Possibilities include:
The hormonal shifts that are happening in your body can wreak havoc on your digestive system, causing bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.
This is when the tissue that normally forms the lining of your uterus grows outside of it.
While endometriosis is typically considered a disease of your premenopausal years, postmenopausal endometriosis exists.
It has links to Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), but is also seen in patients who are not receiving these treatments and who have no prior history of the condition.
There is a renewed interest in investigating the prevalence of endometriosis in postmenopausal women.
The hope is that this will allow for more targeted treatment for those suffering with the condition and encourage further research in this area.
These benign growths in your uterus are so common that 70% of women are expected to have them at some point in their lives.
They tend to occur more frequently earlier in your life because estrogen and progesterone—both of which decrease when you hit perimenopause—are more prevalent in those years.
But that doesn’t mean that the risk of fibroids evaporates completely as you reach this new phase.
You may still experience fibroid-related cramps while going through perimenopause. The risk increases if you are on hormone replacement therapy.
The good news is, if your fibroid symptoms do not go away on their own, there are options—ranging from hormonal therapies to surgeries such as hysterectomies.
If you are concerned about the symptoms you are experiencing, talk to your doctor about your unique treatment options.
Endometrial and uterine cancers
Cramping in the lower abdomen and pelvic area can be a sign of cancer. You are more at risk if you started your period very early in life or hit menopause later.
What are the symptoms of fibroids after menopause?
The sooner you detect fibroids—or any other health conditions—the better.
If you have any of the following symptoms, reach out to your doctor to see if there is anything to be concerned about:
- Unusual bleeding. In this recent study, 90% of postmenopausal patients diagnosed with endometrial cancer reported experiencing vaginal bleeding. While some spotting in peri and post-menopause can be normal, it’s worth checking out any symptoms that feel weird to you.
- Vaginal discharge that is thin, white, and clear.
- Extreme fatigue
- Pain during or after sex
- Discomfort when urinating
- Unexpected weight loss
The bottom line? If you are worried at all, don’t wait to reach out.
Your health is important. You don’t have to navigate this alone.
📚 More on menopause:
Introducing, Peanut Menopause
What Happens During Menopause?
How to Deal With Menopause
When Does Menopause Start?
Painful Sex After Menopause? What to Know
Hot Flashes: Causes, Symptoms, and What to Do
What to Know About Menopause Joint Pain
Unusual Menopause Symptoms You Might Not Know
Why Are My Breasts Getting Bigger After Menopause?
Menopause Fatigue: What to Know and What to Do
What to Do About Menopause Bloating
Essential Oils for Menopause: What Helps?
What You Need to Know About Menopause Mood Swings