Can I get pregnant if I am postmenopausal?
The possibility of pregnancy disappears once you have been without your period for an entire year. However, during the menopause transition (perimenopause) you can still become pregnant. If you do not want to become pregnant, you should continue to use some form of birth control until you reach menopause (you have gone 12 months without having your period). For some women, getting pregnant can be difficult once they are in their late 30s to 40s due to a decline in fertility. However, if becoming pregnant is the goal, there are fertility-enhancing treatments and techniques that can help you get pregnant. Make sure to speak with your doctor about when it is appropriate to stop using contraception.
What are the long-term health risks associated with menopause?
Osteoporosis, a "brittle-bone" disease, occurs when the inside of bones become less dense, making them more fragile and likely to fracture. Estrogen plays an important role in preserving bone mass. Estrogen signals cells in the bones to stop breaking down.
Women lose an average of 25 percent of their bone mass from the time of menopause to age 60, due in large part to the loss of estrogen. Over time, this loss of bone can lead to bone fractures. There are many options, including estrogen therapy, to treat brittle bones.
Coronary artery disease
Coronary artery disease is the narrowing or blockage of arteries that surround the heart muscle. It results when fatty plaque builds up in the artery walls (known as atherosclerosis). This buildup is associated with high levels of cholesterol in the blood. After menopause, a woman's risk for coronary artery disease increases.
A healthy diet, not smoking, and getting regular exercise are your best options to prevent heart disease. Treating elevated blood pressure and diabetes as well as maintaining cholesterol levels with "statin" medications and aspirin therapy for selected at-risk persons are the standards of care. The benefits and risks of hormone therapy vary depending on a woman’s age and her individual history. In general, younger women in their 50s tend to get more benefits from hormone therapy as compared to postmenopausal women in their 60s. Women who undergo premature menopause are often treated with hormone therapy until age 50 to avoid the increased risk that comes from the extra years of estrogen loss.