Why Do I Have PMS After Menopause? 3 Things to Know

Last updated 03.11.2024 | by Sabrina Johnson | 7 Minutes Read

This article has been reviewed and fact checked by Dr. Karen Pike, a senior physician administrator and board-certified emergency room doctor actively working in northern California. Read more at our medical disclaimer page.


PMS, or Premenstrual syndrome, is something that most of us can relate to. Results show that approximately 90% of women who have reached reproductive age experience mild or severe premenstrual symptoms. About 20-40% of women have PMS, while 2-8% might experience PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder), which is a severe form of PMS. PMS is so common that three out of four menstruating women experience it in some form or another about a week or two before their periods begin.

Three of every four women experience PMS, and in my friend’s circle, almost all of us were affected by PMS at one point in time. The severity and intensity varied. I also had my share of PMS, which was mostly manifested as food cravings and mood swings.

However, after menopause, PMS took a backseat, though other symptoms filled in the vacuum. So, taking a cue from this, I would like to come to our topic of discussion. Does PMS occur after menopause also? Or does it come to an end with menopause? I will touch upon some of these aspects here. Read on to know more.

What is PMS?

PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, includes a host of emotional and physical symptoms that a woman goes through a week or so before her menses begin. If we were to go by statistics, around 2/3rds women experience breast pain while menstruating. Breast pain before my menstrual cycle was my thing as well. It goes away with the onset of their periods. The symptoms could be physical or behavioral. Some of the physical symptoms include:

  • Tenderness or swelling in the breasts
  • Acne
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Weight gain
  • Fluid retention
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Improper sleep
  • Tiredness
  • Hunger cravings
  • MIgraines
  • Headaches
  • Sweats
  • Hot flashes

If I were to talk about the emotional symptoms of PMS, the ones that need to be mentioned include the following:

  • Immense anxiety
  • Depressive state
  • Crying and sad spells
  • Mood swings, anger, irritability
  • Sleep issues
  • Low concentration
  • Lack of interest in sex
  • Social withdrawal

In my case, mood swings were quite common, and I sometimes found myself sad for some unexplained reason. The symptoms’ severity, type, and intensity vary from one woman to another.

While some will sail through the period before menopause smoothly without any hassle, for a few, the symptoms could be bothersome to the extent that it may make it troublesome to conduct activities of daily living. However, the best part is that the symptoms don’t prolong and fade away within four days from the start of menses.

Can You Have PMS During and After Menopause?

You may be amazed to know that when transitioning into menopause or once you’ve already entered menopause, you could still experience some symptoms that replicate PMS. Hormonal fluctuations and the alteration in your brain’s chemicals are mainly responsible for PMS. So, what if you experience the same symptoms in perimenopause and postmenopause? What’s causing them?

The Hormonal Imbalances (From Premenopause to Postmenopause)

When we mention emotional changes in PMS, mood swings, forgetfulness, and anxiety are pretty common. Interestingly, around 15-50% of women experience all of these in the perimenopause and postmenopause phases. The reason behind them is the hormonal imbalances, specifically the reduced estrogen levels.

Observations show that four out of ten perimenopausal women experience irritability, moodiness, low energy, sad spells, and concentration issues, just as one could face in perimenopause. These mood fluctuations and cognitive issues could get carried into postmenopause also and may persist until the body adjusts to the new hormonal levels.

The PMS Symptoms May Worsen In Perimenopause and Post Menopause

Perimenopause starts between 40 and 44, on average. If you have been troubled with PMS in your 20s and 30s, you could find it getting worse when transitioning into menopause. If you have had mood swings, irritability, muscle pain, and breast soreness during your menses, you may find them aggravating with menopause. It may not be PMS, but the aftereffects of hormonal imbalances.

With them, you can also experience additional perimenopause symptoms like vaginal dryness, hot flashes, etc. You could blame all these on the hormones, which get extra sensitive in menopause. Things will improve when the hormone levels stabilize, and your body gets used to them.

The Postmenopausal Syndrome

Many women after menopause may go through PMS-like symptoms postmenopause, but they aren’t the same thing. That’s PMS but with a different name – postmenopausal syndrome, which may happen due to reduced estrogen levels.

When I mention the symptoms, you can see how similar they are to premenstrual syndrome. Many could experience cramps, aches, and pains in their joints, neck, back, or stomach region as they would have before their menses. Sleep problems, concentration issues, depression, and feelings of sadness are also common.

So, if you feel that the premenstrual syndrome has carried on to menopause, you aren’t entirely correct in your thoughts. If you have had PMS before, it could exacerbate with menopause. However, postmenopausal syndrome also occurs due to a dip in hormone levels and gets better with time.

Tips to Manage PMS Before, During, and After Menopause

Tips to Manage PMS Before, During, and After Menopause

Be it during your menses or after menopause, irrespective of when you have PMS or PMS-like symptoms, the treatment process and management procedure are mostly the same. Here are some tips that could be of help:

  • Maintain a balanced diet comprising whole grains, fruits, veggies, healthy fats, high-quality protein, and dairy products. Eat these in proper proportions and refrain from overeating.

You could talk to a doctor or seek a dietician’s assistance to create a proper diet chart according to your requirements. Avoid or lessen the intake of trigger foods that could worsen your symptoms. These include those high in salt and spices, coffee, caffeinated beverages, alcohol, etc.

  • If you have been into smoking all this while, it is time that you give serious thought to quitting it.

Smoking aggravates PMS symptoms and makes the cramps more severe, causing them to last for a couple of days. If you thought that smoking would relax and calm your nerves, you were wrong. It could elevate your anxiety levels, making them worse.

  • Staying hydrated and following a proper exercise regime will help you manage many symptoms. Aerobic exercises like swimming, cycling, walking, and running will immensely help your physical and emotional well-being. Walking came as a boon to me at a time when my hormones were all over the place.
  • If anxiety, concentration issues, memory problems, or depression is bothering you immensely, resort to relaxation techniques. Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing will help in this regard.
  • If you frequently experience stress, fatigue, aches, and depression, you should get your blood levels checked. In such cases, discuss your iron levels with your doctor.

A dip often leads to brain fog, fatigue, irritability, and body aches. Likewise, low magnesium could trigger depression, while lessened B-complex levels may result in fatigue, tiredness, and pain.

FAQs

How long do premenstrual and postmenstrual syndromes last?

In most women, premenstrual syndrome begins about a week before their periods and stays up to four days after their menses start. Postmenstrual syndrome may last for many days and, at times, may prolong for two weeks after the period ends.

When to see a doctor regarding PMS before, during, or after menopause?

If the symptoms continue for a long time and affect your daily life, you should contact a doctor who may help you determine whether the symptoms are due to any underlying conditions. Make a diary and record your symptoms to understand the pattern, severity, and intensity.

Can hormone replacement therapy help with PMS?

Hormone therapy is known for its effectiveness in helping to manage PMS symptoms. However, seek a healthcare provider’s advice to see the kind of HRT that would suit you the best, alongside the dosage.

Conclusion

PMS mostly stops, and the symptoms fade after menopause. If you get similar symptoms after menopause, it could be a hangover from the hormonal balances that could get better once your body adjusts to them. However, if you have PMS-like symptoms after menopause which doesn’t get better, a doctor’s consultation is needed.

Author

  • Sabrina Johnson

    Meet Sabrina Johnson, a compassionate author and a seasoned expert in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a driving force behind Simply Menopause, where her extensive medical knowledge and empathetic nature come together to empower women in their menopausal journey. Sabrina offers culturally sensitive guidance and support through her approachable writing, making her a trusted friend on the path to menopause wellness.