Is it normal to menstruate when I'm over 50-years-old?

Is it normal to menstruate when I'm over 50-years-old?
Monday, Jan 21, 2013
Mind Your Body, The Straits Times

Q: I am 56 years old. My menstruation stopped for about six months but it has started again. Is it normal to menstruate at my age?

A: The majority of women would have had menopause between the ages of 50 and 55.

Menopause is defined clinically by the absence of menstrual periods for a continuous duration of one year. This may be associated with symptoms such as hot flushes, mood disturbance, dryness of the skin or even insomnia.

During the transition to menopause, women may experience changes in their menstrual patterns, such as heavy or irregular periods.

A small proportion of women may still menstruate after the age of 55, especially if there is a family history of late-onset menopause. The use of certain types of hormonal medication can also cause older women to have continuing menstruation.

However, it is prudent to consult a gynaecologist, who will evaluate the period pattern and correlate it with other factors or symptoms to exclude other causes of delayed menopause. These include:

Any undetected growths within the uterus, such as fibroids or polyps; Endometrial hyperplasia, a condition of excessive proliferation of the cells of the endometrium, or inner lining of the uterus; Uterine cancer or cervical cancer.

To detect any uterine problems, the gynaecologist will conduct a systematic gynaecological assessment of the pelvis, which can be complemented with an ultrasound scan of the pelvis. Other further diagnostic tests may be necessary if there are any abnormalities detected during this evaluation process. He will determine if your menstruation is normal or not.

Women who are still menstruating should go for a Pap smear regularly, which is important in picking up any cervical abnormality. It involves having a sample of cells collected from the cervix and checked.

Dr Jason Lim,
associate consultant at the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at Singapore General Hospital

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