A Graduation from Bleeding: Everything to Know About Menopause

First, make sure you check out our episode on menopause.

Menopause is the fourth and final reproductive time point. It marks the end of the window where women are able to have children and a new chapter in womens’ lives. Because for centuries on end, women have been considered vessels to have babies, the menopause transition has been negatively stigmatized. 

But we don’t have to think of menopause as a horrible ending. What if we thought of it as a kind of graduation? So you’ve been handed your diploma (diagnosis), now what?

There’s good news and bad news: bad news first. Unfortunately, we don’t know that much about how menopause works. The good news is that there are more studies looking into menopause than ever before. 

Here’s what we know:

Menopause is technically defined as the cessation of your period for a year, but there is so much more that comes along with it. Just like puberty involves more than just getting a period, menopause spans beyond a period stopping. 

With menopause comes a decrease in estrogen and progesterone and an increase in a lot of other things. Hot flashes are probably the most common symptom. These are the sensations of feeling warm or even sweating. We don’t know what exactly causes hot flashes, but hormone fluctuations which are seen during menopause are likely linked to the frequency of hot flashes. 

Most respond well to estrogen therapy in the treatment of hot flashes. This allows for estrogen levels to maintain a steady level, preventing the fluctuations we would have seen otherwise. It’s important to note that there are some potential risks which come along with estrogen therapy:

  1. If you have not had a hysterectomy, talk with your doctor about taking some form of progesterone alongside estrogen. This will prevent an increased risk for uterine cancer triggered by the estrogen. 
  2.  Some studies have found that estrogen therapy has increased risk in stroke, however, this study was completed among women who were beyond the menopausal transition. In a normal clinical setting, estrogen therapy is prescribed much earlier. 
  3. Therapy is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, but only by about 1.5% at 15 years of use (In the Women’s Health Initiative trials, an additional 9 per 10,000 women on estrogen + progestin developed breast cancer compared to those not on hormones). To compare, there are a lot of other things we do do in our everyday life that also increase breast cancer, and likely by a much higher amount, like not being physically active or eating well. 

There are other treatments that are plant-based, but they have not been regulated. Make sure to talk to your doctor about what therapy works for you.

But beyond hot flashes, changes in estrogen levels, and aging, in general, are going to affect your vagina.

The skin, like all aging skin, becomes less elastic and more paper-like. The vagina becomes dryer. But there are remedies. Oil-based lubricants seem to be the most comfortable, but they cannot be used with condoms or certain sex toys. Estrogen may also helps to manage these symptoms. 

But hey, no more worries about getting pregnant!

The point is, menopause is a reality that all women will face, and it should be talked about. It is the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. Let’s show our reproductive diploma and celebrate it. 

~ Emma




Office Of Women’s Health: https://www.womenshealth.gov/menopause/menopause-resources

The North American Menopause Society: https://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online

ACOG: The Menopause Years – https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/The-Menopause-Years

HealthyWomen.org Healthy Aging: https://www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/midlife-and-beyond/aging-well