As you age, your body begins the
natural sequence of changes that eventually bring an end to your
menstrual cycle (menopause). The number and quality of
your eggs decline,
hormone levels fluctuate, and your menstrual cycle
becomes less predictable. This time of unpredictable change is called
If you have completed menopause -- gone without a period for more than one year -- you should not experience any menstrual bleeding. Even a little spotting is not normal after menopause. If you have postmenopausal bleeding, make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible. It could be caused by a number of health problems, some of which are serious.
Here is an overview of the most common causes of postmenopausal bleeding.
After a few years of
fluctuating hormones, your
progesterone levels begin to decline. When your
estrogen drops past a certain point, your menstrual cycle and your ability to
become pregnant end. After 1 year with no menstrual bleeding, you reach
menopause and begin postmenopause.
A year or more into
postmenopause, estrogen levels typically even out at a low level. Since
estrogen also plays a role in other functions of your body, its decline has
far-reaching effects, including faster bone loss and drying and thinning of the
skin and the vaginal and urinary tracts.
Your body has its own
time line for when menopause will start and how long it will last. In fact, it's
likely that your time line will be much like your mother's was. But certain
lifestyle choices and medical treatments can cause or are linked to an earlier
Smoking. On average, women who smoke reach
menopause 1½ years earlier than those who don't. The longer you have smoked and
the more you smoke, the stronger this effect is likely to be.2