Pregnancy after Menopause

MENOPAUSE

Menopause refers to a stage which marks the end of menstrual cycles of a woman. It signals a drastic change in the hormones which are responsible for managing fertility in women. Read on for information on how this affects one’s ability to conceive.

What Is Menopause?

Menopause can be explained as the absence of menstrual periods for a year, when a woman’s ovaries stop functioning. The term is used to describe the changes a woman experiences prior to the end of her menstrual cycles. It also marks the end of her capacity to reproduce and conceive a baby. It is a normal condition which every woman experiences at an advanced age.

A woman’s ovaries are a storehouse for a massive amount of eggs. The menstruation and ovulation cycles are controlled by hormones like oestrogen and progesterone which are produced in the ovaries. When the ovaries are unable to release the eggs, menstruation comes to an end and menopause begins.

Difference Between Menopause And Perimenopause

The primary distinguishing factor between menopause and perimenopause is menstruation. Women in perimenopause are capable of producing oestrogen and are having periods regularly while women in menopause haven’t had a period for 12 months at least. Perimenopause is a time period the body needs to prepare for menopause than a physical condition itself while menopause is a medical diagnosis where menses are absent for a minimum of 12 months.

Perimenopause is defined at a transition time when your body produces less of oestrogen and progesterone. Your periods become irregular in terms of frequency and length while your hormone levels will fluctuate, leading to hot flashes and sweating at night. During menopause, however, LH and FSH levels are high and ovulation stop. A common question asked by women is how long does it take for menopause to end. The answer is obvious- Never. This is when postmenopause starts.

Is It Possible To Get Pregnant After Menopause?

A common and natural doubt arising amongst menopausal women is “can a woman get pregnant after menopause?” Once you have received a confirmation from the doctor that menopause has begun, there are no chances of you becoming pregnant. There are no eggs in your ovaries that can be released and hence zero possibility of pregnancy too. You can enjoy your sex life to the fullest at this time, since you and your partner do not have to worry about a surprise.

Although an unplanned pregnancy is not possible, menopause does not guard one against STDs and hence, practicing safe sex is always advised. You are also likely to hear tales about women who got pregnant even during their 60s and 70s but they are more of rumors than the truth. During menopause, pregnancy test will always yield a negative result and is a fruitless effort.

Chances Of A Woman Getting Pregnant After Menopause With IVF

IVF post menopause has been carried out quite successfully in women who wanted to get pregnant after menopause. A woman can get pregnant using IVF in two ways despite non-viability of her eggs. Her own eggs that were frozen earlier can be used or donor eggs can be used too. You would have to undergo hormonal therapy so that your body is ready for implantation and to nourish a baby for the entire term. However, your doctor will be the right person to decide if your health is good enough for IVF after menopause as postmenopausal women can experience certain complications after IVF. It is best to consult with a fertility expert in case you have decided to undergo IVF after menopause.

How To Reverse Menopause And Get Pregnant?

The answer to “can a woman get pregnant after menopause?” is presently no. However, modern science has found answers to many seemingly impossible questions and there is a lot of research work going on. Use of the mother’s platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is one line of treatment that has caught the attention of clinical researchers. PRP is rich with cytokines and hormones. Ovarian activity restoration is possible for a temporary period, but clinical trials for the same are going on.

Pregnancy After Menopause

What Are The Risks Of Getting Pregnant Post Menopause?

As age increases, the health risks in pregnancy increases correspondingly. As compared to younger women, you could face risks of certain kinds if you are above 35. The risks associated with pregnancy during menopause are as follows:

  • Multiple pregnancies, especially if you have chosen IVF-In Vitro Fertilization as your preferred medium. This could lead to low birth weight, pre-term birth and difficult delivery.
  • Stillbirth or miscarriage
  • Gestational diabetes, causing health issues for mother and child
  • Caesarean birth
  • High blood pressure which needs proper monitoring and medications to prevent future complications
  • Low birth weight or premature delivery
  • Placenta praevia (low-lying placenta) which causes severe bleeding and needs medications.

Tips For Conceiving After Menopause

A question that haunts most women keen on conceiving is how to get pregnant after menopause. A woman needs to be careful if she decides to conceive post menopause and should emphasize on minimizing risks to the lowest possible levels. The following tips can help you to boost fertility levels and enhance your chances of getting pregnant:

  • The first step involves bringing your body to the high level of wellness before becoming pregnant whether menopausal or not. Three months before trying to get pregnant, you should consume prenatal vitamins and folic acid supplements. You could also start on vitamin D and calcium to boost your wellness levels, but check with your doctor before doing so.
  • Ensure that your Body Mass Index or BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9 before trying to conceive. Obesity is considered to be a critical risk factor in normal pregnancies, especially so with post-menopause pregnancies. Consider a diet that is high on proteins and low on calories to ensure the right weight and BMI. Avoid foods containing, saturated fats and white sugar. Stay away from processed foods too.
  • Visit your doctor to carry out tests like mammogram, PAP smear, Haemoglobin, Lipid profile, tests for STD and blood tests for diabetes. These preliminary tests are useful in finding out any issues associated with your pregnancy so that necessary steps can be taken.
  • It is necessary for menopausal women to take the FSH test to check if they are still ovulating. Check for post menopause pregnancy symptoms to be doubly sure. Women cannot produce their own eggs if the test reports 11.4 and above and medication is rarely of help in such cases. Fertility centres can be approached to help with pregnancy in such cases.

Menopause Myths

Myth 1: Menopause begins at 50

Fact: Although the average age for menopause is 52 years, you could begin in your late 30s or even late 60s. If you haven’t had your periods for a full 12 months, then you are in menopause for sure.

Age For Menopause Could Vary From One Woman To Another

Myth 2: Weight gain is mandatory during menopause

Fact: While unwanted weight gain is common in menopause, it isn’t completely unavoidable. Due to rapidly lowering oestrogen levels, there is a hormonal imbalance in your body and it tries to protect itself by storing fat, thus leading to weight gain. However, through a controlled diet and exercise regime, it is possible to balance your hormones and maintain weight.

Myth 3: Menopause leads to weakened bones

Fact: The weakening of bones in a woman’s body has no direct correlation to menopause. Women lose 10% of their bone mass during menopause, which is a normal process around that age. However when coupled with a family history of weak bones, poor diet and an unchecked lifestyle, the bone loss can be doubled. By reducing stress, undertaking bone strengthening exercises and getting enough nutrients you can make sure that your bones stay strong.

Myth 4: Menopause has a huge impact on your sex life

Fact: Women are blessed to have an active sex life at any age be it 30 or 90. However, due to hormonal imbalance, a gradual decrease in sex life is possible. Also factors like vaginal dryness, tiredness and irritability can lead to infrequent sexual activity. The physical symptoms can be addressed through various channels and sex drive during menopause can be restored to its former glory.

Myth 5: The later you start menstruating, the later will you start with menopause

Fact: As a matter of fact, it is the opposite that’s true. If you have started menstruating at a later-than-average age, you are more likely to start menopause earlier. Check for the following clues if you want to predict your menopause age:

  • Smoking leads to earlier menopause
  • Alcohol consumption and more pregnancies can mean delayed menopause
  • Your mother’s menopause age is one of the best indicators of knowing when you will start.

Myth 6: Hot flashes are the first signs of menopause

Fact: Menopause is usually associated with hot flashes but there are many other symptoms which can signal the beginning of your menopause. These include difficulty in sleeping, weight gain, hair loss, food cravings, irritability and anxiety among many others. Due to this wide variety of signs of menopause, it is difficult for women to pinpoint and therefore understand these are the first signs of menopause or hormonal imbalance.

Now that you understand how menopause can affect your life, you can be better prepared to manage this important phase of your life. It will be easier to face the situation as you can differentiate between myth and reality and understand the role menopause plays in your life. You will also be able to overcome its distressing symptoms confidently and look and feel your best during these trying times.

Also read: Premature Ovarian Failure