menopause vs postmenopause

Menopause vs. Postmenopause: What’s the difference?

The Difference Between Menopause and Post-menopause

Menopause and post-menopause are two distinct phases in a woman's life that mark significant hormonal changes and health transitions. While the terms are often used interchangeably, it's essential to understand the differences between these stages to manage the unique challenges they bring and understand where you sit on your journey.

This article explores the key differences so you can feel more confident about entering each phase and owning each one as you go!


The three phases of menopause:

Perimenopause, which means ‘around menopause’ is the transitional phase into menopause, the end of your reproductive years. During perimenopause, our female sex hormones progesterone and estrogen begin to fluctuate and many women start to experience multiple symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, fatigue, heart palpitations, brain fog and mood swings. On average, perimenopause will last for 4-5 years; for some, it will last just a short time for others as long as 8-10 years.

Menopause, when the ovaries cease to produce eggs and your periods stop, is categorised as when you haven’t had a period for 12 consecutive months. The average age for menopause is 51 and is technically only one day in a woman's life, after which you are considered post-menopausal.

Post-menopause, the phase of life following menopause. It begins one year after your last menstrual period and continues for the rest of your life. For many women menopause symptoms will continue into the post-menopause phase. 


What hormonal changes can I expect in menopause and post-menopause? 

Menopause: During your transition to menopause, your ovaries reduce their production of estrogen and progesterone.  Due to this hormonal shift, the majority of women will experience both physical and emotional symptoms during their menopause such as mood swings, fatigue, brain fog and vaginal dryness. As every woman is different, so are her symptoms which will occur at varying intervals and intensities.

Post-menopause: Estrogen and progesterone levels remain consistently low during post-menopause, so some women will still experience symptoms. With consistently low hormone production comes a greater risk of some long-term health problems, such as osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.


What are the symptoms of menopause and post-menopause? 

Menopause: Some of the menopause symptoms can occur in perimenopause and it’s very likely there will be an overlap of symptoms. Every woman is different and there’s no definitive list of what happens, when and for how long, but symptoms can include:


Post-menopause: Most women will experience some lingering symptoms from menopause, though usually not as intensely. In general, symptoms like hot flushes and mood swings tend to calm down; and for some women, they will disappear altogether.

The symptoms experienced in post-menopause are caused by the now permanent lower levels of the reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone, and can include.

  • Vaginal dryness and sexual discomfort
  • Insomnia
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Dry skin
  • Weight changes
  • Hair loss
  • Urinary incontinence

    What are some common health concerns related to menopause and post-menopause? 

    During the menopause and post-menopausal phases, you may face an increased risk of long-term health issues due to a decline in estrogen levels, these can include:

    If you feel in anyway concerned, your first step should always be talking to your healthcare specialist. Never wait until symptoms become unmanageable before you seek advice


    How to reduce your risk of health issues in menopause and live well

    We spend up to 50% of our lives in some stage of menopause, so it’s important to look after ourselves, and the best way to do this is with a proactive mindset and by exploring the range of treatments available to help manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. These can include:


    Managing your health during post-menopause should be your priority. Focus on maintaining bone density through a diet rich in calcium and greens. Take good care of your heart with lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, healthy eating, minimising stress and alcohol and getting moving – any physical activity you can manage consistently is a great start. 

    All you need is to show yourself and your body some extra love and the care it deserves. 


    Menopause marks the end of one period of life, and post-menopause the beginning of another

    Life doesn’t stop here. Instead, it opens the door to a new chapter filled with self-discovery and personal growth opportunities. Understanding the differences between these phases will help you navigate the challenges and opportunities they present with greater clarity and confidence.

    So be kind to yourself, post-menopause is a permanent phase of life and one to be enjoyed to the fullest.



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    This article has been reviewed by our expert advisory team.

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