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Dear Betty,

I am 48 years old and have missed 18 consecutive periods and am just starting to get one.  Is this a true period or from having sex?



 
Answer
 

Dear Reader,

Menopause is the term used to describe the time period when a woman stops menstruating and begins to produce less estrogen. Perimenopause is the time when changes to your menstrual cycle occur; which could mean more frequent periods, skipped periods, or periods that are spaced more widely apart.  Menstruation ceases as the ovaries stop producing eggs, which inhibits ovulation and precludes the need for the menstrual lining to build up each month.  This is usually defined as no menses for 12 consecutive months.
Vaginal bleeding that occurs 6 months or more following cessation of menstrual function, should be investigated. Causes for postmenopausal vaginal bleeding may include problems with the endometrium (lining of the uterus), endometrial or cervical cancer, atrophic vaginitis, trauma (such as with vigorous intercourse), and endometrial or cervical polyps. Make an appointment with your health care provider or the SHCC for a gyn exam.  If you have not had an annual exam/pap in the past year, you could make an appointment for an extended annual exam.