I had a period after hitting menopause - what does that mean?
Have you finally completed 12 months with no period? The first thing you probably want to do is throw away all of those pantyliners and pads! Not so fast! You may just need them for after you hit menopause! 10% of women experience bleeding after hitting menopause. Who would have thought!?
If you experience any type of bleeding after menopause, make an appointment with your doctor right away.
- Something similar to your normal period
- Non-stop bleeding
Why is this happening?
Vaginal atrophy or the thinning of vaginal tissue can lead to symptoms of vaginal dryness. Vaginal dryness can affect 50% of women once they reach menopause. Due to vaginal dryness, a woman can experience spotting after sexual intercourse. Moisturizers, lubricants, or laser therapy can be used to help make sexual intercourse easier.
Endometrial hyperplasia’s main symptom is abnormal bleeding caused by the thick growth of endometrial tissue that needs to be shed, causing sporadic bleeding. This usually happens when a woman is using hormone therapy.
Uterine fibroids and uterine polyps can cause different bleeding levels, from spotting to heavy bleeding, or bleeding after sex. This is why it is essential to make an appointment with your doctor once you notice any type of bleeding after menopause. Both uterine fibroids and uterine polyps can be removed through surgery. But, there is a chance that both may return. A hysterectomy might be an option for a patient with large fibroids and polyps or recurring fibroids and polyps that won’t go away. If polyps are left untreated, they can lead to cancer.
Endometrial/uterine cancer affects 2-3% of American women, and that number is climbing every year. Obesity increases a woman’s risk of endometrial cancer. A woman shouldn’t wait more than 6 months to have bleeding checked after menopause. Endometrial cancer is highly curable by surgery (hysterectomy).
How can a doctor figure out what is causing the bleeding?
Your doctor will need to perform one or all of the following examinations to determine what is causing bleeding after menopause:
- Pap Smear Exam
- Dilation & Curettage (D&C)
- Transvaginal ultrasound
- Endometrial biopsy
Things to keep in mind:
The most common risk factor for bleeding after menopause are diabetes and hypertension. It’s essential to share all details with your doctor. It might be embarrassing to share that you bleed after sexual intercourse. And, you might think it’s just because of vaginal dryness. But, as you can see from above, you can experience spotting due to other health concerns like polyps and fibroids. And even if you are having pelvic exams, doctors can’t find fibroids/polyps/uterine cancer from a pap smear. Therefore, tracking your symptoms and sharing them with your medical provider is essential so that the proper exams are performed and the next steps are taken if needed.