Post-Menopause Periods? Why They Can Happen
It’s right there in the name: meno pause – the cessation of one’s menses. So what’s the deal with post-menopausal bleeding? Can you really restart your period after not having one for a year or more? Or is bleeding at that time a sign of something more serious?
What is post-meno bleeding like?
Any amount of bleeding after a year or more of not experiencing menses is something to take note of. Postmenopausal bleeding can range anywhere between a light spotting and a substantial flow unlike anything you’ve experienced before, so don’t discount your experience based on how heavy the bleeding is.
Other symptoms to look out for include:
- Blood clots
- Bleeding after vaginal intercourse
- Pink or brown discharge
Some women often experience symptoms alongside their bleeding such as abdominal pain, fever, headaches, dizziness, chills, and incontinence. But even if you don’t experience additional symptoms, if you find yourself bleeding, it’s time to call your doctor.
Has your period really returned?
Irregular periods are a hallmark of perimenopause, that time of hormonal limbo before your body finally decides to commit to this stage of your life. And your experience of post-meno bleeding may not be much different from those irregular periods. But your period isn’t a car battery — it can’t be jumped back into action.
Unfortunately, if you’re experiencing vaginal bleeding after menopause, it could be a sign of health issues ranging from relatively minor to severe and vary depending on the source of the bleeding.
- Thinning tissue
- Thinning tissue
- Vaginal cancer (very rare)
- Sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia, trich, gonorrhea
- Cervical polyps
- Cervical cancer (not common, especially if up to date on PAP testing)
- Uterine polyps (the most common cause of uterine bleeding)
- Fibroids (rare during post-menopause years)
- Thinning tissue
- Endometrial hyperplasia, a thickening of uterine lining
- Uterine cancer (bleeding is an early warning sign, so getting immediate care contributes to the 96% 5-year survival rate).
Is post-meno bleeding something to be concerned about?
If you experience vaginal bleeding post-menopause, you need to get in touch with your preferred physician immediately. Don’t wait for the bleeding to stop to schedule an appointment. Your doctor should examine you while you are bleeding to help determine where the bleeding is coming from This kind of bleeding is abnormal, and your doctor needs to rule out worst-case scenarios before considering the relatively less serious ones.
According to our menopause expert Maggie Ney ND, it’s helpful to keep in mind that it is most likely your bleeding is caused by a noncancerous condition. “In the vast majority of cases, postmenopausal bleeding is not cancer,” she says. “But any postmenopausal bleeding, even just spotting, needs to be taken seriously.”
In a recent analysis by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) on the extent to which postmenopausal vaginal bleeding is associated with endometrial cancer, only approximately 9% of women who saw a doctor for their bleeding later received a diagnosis of endometrial cancer. But while the risk is relatively low, addressing the possibility immediately can help with early detection, which leads to more successful treatment, if needed. And if cancer is ruled out, your doctor can better address the underlying issues causing the bleeding.