What Constitutes Post-Menopause?
Menopause is the cessation of menstruation for a period of 12 months. Once that period of time is complete, a woman is considered to be post-menopausal, which really only means "after the menopause." There are other ways a woman may become menopausal, aside from experiencing it naturally. If a woman has a partial or full hysterectomy and has had her ovaries removed, she is considered to be post-menopausal after the surgery because she can no longer produce eggs. Sometimes chemotherapy can cause a woman to stop menstruating, but she may resume periods after chemo is complete, meaning that she is not menopausal.
Does post-menopause mean post-mortem? The obvious answer is no-of course not. However, the term post-menopause leaves the impression that there is little to hope for in terms of "what next." We really do need to change the term into something more inspiring. The question arises, Does post-menopause last for the rest of a woman's life? The answer is technically, yes. But then, so does postpartum (unless there's another baby.)
All post-menopausal women are different, each experiencing this particular time of life differently. Some women stop menstruation and that's that. Others have hot flashes for years after they have reached menopause. There is no pat answer and no set pattern other than cessation of menstruation for one year.
So, what does this period of life bring? Years ago a woman was considered old and on her way to the grave when she arrived at menopause. Today's woman is so different. Women who are post-menopause and are grandmothers shy away from being called Granny or Grandmother. They prefer names that don't sound so old. After all, 60 is not old! They say that 60 is the new 50 - still young and active.
Interestingly enough, when men hit "mid-life" they go out and buy themselves a flashy sports car, or leave their wives for a much younger person. Society has casually winked at that. A woman at the same chronological age is categorized by hot flashes and weight gain. Hardly a fair comparison. However, what is really happening is that both men and women at this stage in life are in transition and are reformulating the rest of their lives. Whatever way it manifests, life is a journey and arriving at mid-life is just another bend in the road.
I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar
Women in their post-menopausal years are finding themselves, finding their own voice and trying their hand at the things they always wanted to do but felt they couldn't because of family constraints or financial needs. Budding artists, musicians, writers, and actors are appearing on the scene as women find their fulfillment without apologizing. Indeed, the years following menopause can be the best years yet.