Postmenopausal bleeding— defined as spotting at least one year after your periods have stopped— is not uncommon. It's usually due to inflammation and it may settle down on its own as your body adjusts to this new stage in life. However, it's worth getting persistent spotting checked out by your doctor, just to rule out anything serious, such as cancer, which affects one in ten women who experience spotting after the menopause.
What causes spotting?
When your oestrogen levels fall during menopause, the lining of the womb and the vagina walls become thinner and less moist. It's called vaginal atrophy, and according to Sandy Calhoun Rice from Healthline, "It becomes less elastic, more fragile, and more easily injured". This change can lead to sexual discomfort, and result in inflammation and bleeding inside the vagina or the womb after menopause.
Spotting can also be caused by polyps on your cervix or in your womb. These are benign growths that sometimes fall off on their own. However, if they don't drop off, they may need removing to eliminate discomfort, and to enable your doctor to check for signs of cancer, although this is rare. The removal of polyps is a straightforward procedure.
If you've had hormone replacement therapy or are overweight, it's also possible that spotting could be caused by endometrial hyperplasia: a thickening of the womb lining. This needs treatment to prevent it becoming cancerous.
It's important then, to check with your doctor on what is causing your spotting, so that you can be sure it's nothing serious, and get appropriate treatment if you need it.
Manage spotting through diet and lifestyle choices
If your bleeding is caused by inflammation of the womb, doctors often recommend hormonal treatments to correct the situation. If you wish to try a natural approach instead, and your doctor feels it's safe to do so (e.g. your condition will not worsen), you could try dietary and lifestyle interventions first.
Vaginal atrophy and inflammation
Vitamin E is suggested for women suffering from vaginal atrophy because it is a skin tonic, which improves the condition of vaginal blood vessels in just four weeks. Dr Marilyn Glenville, author of Natural Alternatives to HRT writes: "Insert a vitamin E capsule inside your vagina every night for six weeks and after this time, just use as you feel you need it". You can swallow the capsule instead, but Dr Glenville says the topical approach is generally more successful. This may resolve the inflammation and bleeding, and make you feel more comfortable.
Omega 3 oils soften the skin and decrease inflammation too, so do include some omega 3 in your diet. Flaxseed is a particularly good source because it also contains beneficial phytoestrogens.
Herbs can also be useful in alleviating discomfort. "Motherwort can help by restoring thickness and elasticity to the vaginal walls" writes Dr Glenville.
It's also worth wearing loose clothing and natural fabrics that let your genitals breathe. Staying sexually active can increase blood circulation and moisture in that area, and vitamin E oil can be used as a natural lubricant, which has the added benefit of nourishing your skin.
A study conducted in 2010, and published in a journal sponsored by the Mayo Clinic, showed that vitamin D supplementation, for at least a year and a half, was correlated with a lower prevalence of vaginal atrophy.
If the spotting is caused by a thickening of the womb lining, then excess weight might be the underlying cause, and a healthy eating programme would be beneficial in many ways, as healthy eating can reduce other symptoms of menopause, too.
To lose excess weight, introduce more greens into your diet, and reduce your consumption of processed foods, sugary foods, and refined grains. It's not about eating less: it's about eating differently. Fill up on greens, followed by a large fruit salad, and if you're hungry between meals, snack on baby tomatoes or fresh fruit. Fresh produce will provide phytoestrogens for good hormonal health, while helping you to lose weight.