Experiencing abdominal pains in your child-bearing years is often a PMS symptom. What if you start experiencing cramps after menopause when your periods have already stopped?
- Postmenopausal cramping may be an indication that you have an underlying medical condition, g. uterine fibroids or endometriosis.
- If the pain is not recurrent, it could simply indicate that you have suffered from food poisoning or a stomach virus.
- In many instances, pelvic pain during menopause does not indicate anything serious.
However, you should pay attention to the abdominal cramps if they do not go away within a few days.
You should also see a doctor if the cramping is accompanied by period-like bleeding during menopause.
Is it normal to have pelvic cramping after menopause?
- Is it normal to have pelvic cramping after menopause?
- What causes menstrual-like cramps after menopause?
- Risk factors for cramps after menopause
- Dull ache in pelvic area after menopause
- Postmenopausal cramping and lower back pain
- Bleeding and period-like pain after menopause
- Menopause period pain without bleeding
- Home remedies to relieve pelvic pain after menopause
- When to see a doctor
- Article Resources
One of the greatest enthralling things about the menopause phase is that many women are yet to understand it fully. As soon as you have reached your late forties or early fifties, the body stops producing the same levels of estrogen hormone that it is used to producing.
As this is happening, your body will send you into a tailspin in a phase that is known as perimenopause. It is a phase in your life where you will begin experiencing signs and symptoms that are not only new, but strange as well, and in many cases unpleasant.
Women lacking information on what happens to their bodies during this phase cannot be blamed on the lack of good education per se, as there is a lot of misinformation available online, which makes the entire menopause phase to become very puzzling.
For instance, during this phase, you will start to:
- Experience hot flashes
- Wake up at night time due to night sweats
- Struggle with joint pain, headaches, and heart palpitations
- You will start becoming much moodier than usual
All these factors will vary from one woman to the next, and their intensity will last for between one and ten years.
Immediately your monthly periods have stopped for twelve consecutive months, then, you will have started your menopause or postmenopausal phase.
What causes menstrual-like cramps after menopause?
The menopause phase officially starts when your monthly periods come to an end, due to the fact that the body is no longer capable of producing the estrogen hormone.
As soon as you realize that you have not had your monthly visitor for more than a year, your doctor will be able to confirm that you have already gotten into this phase.
While the body is in the perimenopausal phase, you will still experience symptoms such as bleeding and cramping.
They are indications that you are not yet fully done with your menstrual periods. When the doctor confirms that you have already started the menopause phase, and when your periods have stopped, experiencing cramps may be an indication that you have an underlying medical condition. Apart from the cramps, you may also experience:
- Unexpected weight gain or loss
- Heavy bleeding
- Lower back pain
- Pain or swelling in your legs
- Pain during bowel movements or when having sex
If suffering from a stomach upset, the cramps will be accompanied by diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. The following are the possible causes of cramps after menopause includes:
Endometriosis is a condition where the tissue that is normally found in your uterus starts to grow in other regions of your body e.g. the pelvis or ovaries.
Every time your period comes about, the tissue will start to swell in the same manner it does when present in your uterus.
The process of swelling will make you experience cramping pain.
The condition normally affects women who are still getting their monthly periods and will come to a stop during the menopause phase.
But, there are cases of women who have gone through the menopausal phase who still report experiencing endometriosis like symptoms.
For women who take hormone therapy to assist with the symptoms associated with the menopause phase, the estrogen hormone is likely to make your endometriosis worse.
2. Uterine fibroids
These are growths developing in your uterine walls. In many cases, they are non-malignant, implying that they are not cancerous in any way.
Though many fibroids will start developing at an earlier phase in life, it is possible for women who are in their fifties to also experience the growths.
Typically, the fibroids will stop growing or become smaller when you are in the menopause phase. But, there are women who could still experience related symptoms, even after they have stopped getting their periods.
3. Gastrointestinal ailments
Irritable bowel syndrome, stomach virus, or food poisoning could be what is causing you to experience cramps after menopause in your lower abdominal region.
When they occur, the cramps are normally accompanied by additional symptoms, e.g. diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. In many instances, the symptoms tend to be temporary.
However, there are situations where abdominal pain may be felt after consuming certain foods such as dairy, or when you are suffering from undue stress.
4. Uterine and ovarian cancers
Cancer of the uterus or ovary has been known to bring about abdominal cramps. The risk of developing these types of cancers will increase when you get to your fifties and beyond.
But experiencing abdominal cramping after menopause alone is not an indication that you have cancer. Women with cancer will in many cases have additional symptoms including:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Vaginal bleeding between periods
- Abdominal bloating
Any worrisome symptoms noticed in your body should warrant a visit to your local healthcare clinic for a checkup.
Risk factors for cramps after menopause
There is a likelihood that you will get one of the conditions causing cramps after menopause if you:
- Utilized an IUD to stop pregnancy
- Have taken estrogen to assist you to deal with menopause related symptoms
- Started your menopause phase after age fifty-two
- Have an existing family history of uterine or ovarian cancer
- You got your first menstrual period before you were twelve years
Dull ache in pelvic area after menopause
What causes a dull ache in the abdominal area during menopause?
Uterine cancer is one of the chief grounds of death compared to any other gynecological cancer, according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention).
Currently, there is no reliable test for this disease, and its symptoms are very easy to mistake for diseases or conditions that are less serious.
Rarely is it found in an early and treatable stage, based on information from Mayo Clinic. Even though the symptoms manifested are similar for women across all age-groups, cancer often strikes when after the menopause phase.
According to the CDC, ovarian cancer is likely to cause a dull ache in your abdominal and pelvic region. Additionally, it can also cause pain in your legs or lower back region.
There are instances where it may cause you to experience pain during sexual intercourse. Once you start experiencing the dull aches, it will gradually start to become constant and may begin to worsen as time passes by.
Postmenopausal cramping and lower back pain
Experiencing chronic pain in your perimenopausal and postmenopausal phase may due to various gynecological conditions, e.g. vulvodynia, benign tumors, interstitial cystitis, or pelvic adhesions. It can also be caused by non-gynecological conditions, e.g. irritable bowel syndrome and colorectal tumors.
However, the two most common causes of vaginal and pelvic pain are vulvodynia and fibroids. Fibroids, also known as leiomyoma’s, are popular non-malignant tumors, which tend to be present in both perimenopausal and postmenopausal women.
They are the leading causes of gynecologic surgeries in the United States, as they account for one-third of all hysterectomies that are carried out in a given year.
For women undergoing surgery to assist them to deal with pelvic pain, fibroids tend to be a common discovery. Studies have suggested that fibroids prevalence tends to be higher than most people think, as only twenty to fifty percent of women with this condition experience any symptoms.
In a case where the fibroids are symptomatic, the most common symptoms that are reported will include:
- Reproductive dysfunction
- Abnormal uterine bleeding
- Pelvic pressure or pain
- Back pain
- Decreased capacity of your urinary bladder
The fibroids often have both progesterone and estrogen receptors, which respond to hormonal stimulation. When they become enlarged during your reproductive years, they could increase the severity and frequency of your symptoms.
Given the fact that the fibroids tend to be slow growing, it could take months or even years for any significant changes to be noted. In any case, there are women who will remain stable for very long duration.
Once you have hit menopause, the fibroids will likely start to regress, due to the reduced levels of progesterone and estrogen present in your body.
The pain experienced when you have fibroids can be attributed to where they are located, as well as their current size.
Posterior fibroids have been known to cause lower back pain.
Anterior fibroids, on the other hand, may lead to compression of your bladder, and it could cause you to experience a lot of pain. When the fibroids are too large, they may end up causing dyspareunia.
Bleeding and period-like pain after menopause
There is a need to ensure that you go for a medical checkup if you notice any postmenopausal bleeding. Traditionally, it is not considered normal for you to start bleeding or spotting twelve or more months after getting your last period.
Therefore, bleeding and period-like pain after menopause is deemed to be an indication that there is an underlying medical condition, which may be an early sign of a more serious health concern.
If noticed early, a majority of the conditions, e.g. cancer that causes bleeding after menopause can be treated successfully.
What is the main cause of bleeding after menopause?
Bleeding after your menopause phase is rarely a source of concern. But, there is always need to ensure that it is investigated, as it may be an indication of something that is more serious.
In close to ninety percent of all reported cases, the particular cause of bleeding after you have stopped getting your periods will not be identified.
However, you should not be alarmed by this, as if a serious problem is present, it will be identified when further investigations are carried out. In many instances, the postmenopausal bleeding is due to:
- Presence of abnormalities in your uterus or cervix
- Inflammation of your vagina
- Thickened endometrium occasioned by taking hormone replacement therapy
- Thinning of your uterus lining
- Presence of growths in your uterus or cervix, which in many cases are not cancerous
Generally, the above problems are not very serious, and they can always be treated with ease. But, around ten percent of postmenopausal bleeding cases end-up being linked to uterine or cervical cancer. As such, there is a need for detailed investigations to be carried out.
Treatment for postmenopausal bleeding
When you realize that you have postmenopausal bleeding, you should have it investigated as soon as possible. Your medic will refer you to a reputable gynecologist, who may then:
- Take a look at your vagina through the use of special tongs
- Inquire about your medical history
- Perform a blood test
- Examine you
The treatment that will be prescribed will be determined by what is causing the bleeding.
Menopause period pain without bleeding
It is inescapable that at some point you have perceived menopause as a good end to your vicious cycle of abdominal pain and stomach cramps each month. Unfortunately, you can still experience the normal period pain, even without getting a period, because of your fluctuating hormones.
The menopause phase is a period when hormones responsible for regulating the menstrual cycle, e.g. estrogen begin fluctuating.
Typically, this will cause changes to occur in your menstrual cycle, and the periods will become irregular, before coming to a stop.
Additionally, you may also experience some period pain. The pain can still be present even when you do not get any periods.
Even though the exact cause is not yet known, many medical experts believe that this occurs due to the conflicting messages that are being sent by the hormones present in the body.
With time, your hormones will become settled, and this will allow your symptoms to start dispersing.
It is critical always to remember that experiencing period pain may also be an indication that you have a more serious health condition, e.g. ovarian cysts or endometriosis. Therefore, if you start becoming worried, visit your physician.
Home remedies to relieve pelvic pain after menopause
Traditionally, if the pelvic pain is not too severe, it should be easy to treat it at home. Consider the following options:
For many women, the last thing they would want to engage in when experiencing period pain would be to move, but there are instances when engaging in exercises can prove to be extremely beneficial for you.
- Exercises make it possible for you to not only stretch, but your muscles also get to relax.
- In addition, performing aerobic exercises will get the blood pumping at very fast rates in the body, and this will assist in the production and release of more endorphins.
- Endorphins are the natural painkillers for your body.
Hot water bottle or custom heat pad
Heat is a very good relaxant. Applying heat to all the tense muscles in your uterus will assist in providing you with quick relief from the pelvic pain.
But, you have to be careful, and ensure that you exercise a lot of caution when using the heat pad.
Take care not to burn your skin surface, more so when making use of a hot water bottle.
Warm shower or bath
A warm shower or bath works in the same manner as a heating pad. The warm water coursing through your body will make it possible for all the tense muscles to become relaxed.
Additionally, it will also provide you with an opportunity to de-stress your body.
Certain foods, e.g. those containing fatty and greasy substances, which have been known to increase your chances of getting cramps, as well as becoming bloated.
In case you notice that the tummy has already started becoming tender, ensure you stay away from foods, which may make the symptoms to become worse.
Magnesium has been seen to assist in reducing your muscle cramps. It also functions as a relaxant for your muscle, which aids in lowering prostaglandins levels.
When to see a doctor
When you are experiencing cramps after menopause, it may be an indication that you are still receiving your periods, even though the general conclusion may be that you are past the menopause phase.
You should visit your OB-GYN if the cramps you are experiencing are accompanied by additional symptoms, e.g. bloating, heavy bleeding, and weight loss.
The physician will perform a number of tests that are aimed at establishing what could have gone wrong. Proper medication will then be prescribed to assist with the cramps and the condition behind the cramps after menopause.
- Mayo Clinic Personnel. (2013, April 2nd). Endometriosis: the definition: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/endometriosis/basics/definition/con-20013968
- Cancer.Org. (2016, February 29). Endometrial cancer risk factors: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/endometrialcancer/detailedguide/endometrial-uterine-cancer-risk-factors
- Mayo Clinic Personnel. (2014, May 8). Menstrual cramps: treatment and drugs: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menstrual-cramps/basics/treatment/con-20025447
- Cedars Sinai Staff. (N.D). Risk factors and warning signs: http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Patients/Programs-and-Services/Womens-Cancer-Program/Patient-Guide/Risk-Factors-and-Warning-Signs.aspx
- Women Health. (2015, January 15). Uterine Fibrosis Fact Sheet: http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/uterine-fibroids.html