Myths, like gossip, can take on a life of their own, passing from person to person with just enough accurate information to make the whole thing plausible. Unfortunately, as long as women have been going through life changes (i.e., forever) myths about menopause have spread.
Fortunately, advancements in medicine and biological sciences have helped sift fact from fiction. Even so, it’s still important to eradicate old-time myths and fables of menopause, especially as you approach or begin this important transition in your life.
What Is Menopause?
First, it’s critical to remember that menopause is a normal condition in a woman’s life. It typically takes place after age 40, when a woman’s ovaries no longer release an egg every month and menstruation ceases.
There are several stages in the menopause journey for women:
- Premenopause: Beginning sometime after age 40, symptoms of perimenopause may come on gradually. In fact, some women may not initially realize that symptoms such as irregular periods, mood swings, sleep troubles, or worsening PMS are ushering her in to menopause.
- Perimenopause: If a woman has not menstruated in a year, she has transitioned into menopause. She may find an increase in symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, and irritability.
- Postmenopause: In this phase, a woman may feel as if her life is settling back down. Menopause symptoms are diminished or have disappeared, and she may feel an increase in energy.
10 Menopause Myths, Half-Truths and Old Wives Tales
- Menopause automatically starts at age 50. Wouldn’t it be nice if everything in life was that predictable? Unfortunately, just like the onset of menstruation, labor, and childbirth, menopause doesn’t make an appointment with you. On average, menopause begins around age 52, but you could begin experiencing symptoms as early as your late 30s to as late as your early 60s. Every woman is different and while there’s no sure-fire way to predict when you’ll go through it, a good indicator is the age at which your mother started menopause.
- Women in menopause can still get pregnant. You are not considered in menopause until you have gone 12 consecutive months without a period. That means, if you get a period after not having one for 11 months and 29 days, you are still in perimenopause and there remains a chance that you could still get pregnant. After a year has passed with no period, a woman can no longer get pregnant.
- There’s no relief for hot flashes. The frequency and severity of hot flashes varies from woman to woman. While it is the most common symptom of menopause and can linger from six months to two years, there are solutions that offer relief, including Estrogen Replacement Therapy (ERT) and Bioidentical Hormone Therapy (BHT).
- Menopause is the gateway to weight gain. While fluctuating hormones during menopause may be the culprit here, menopause is not necessarily a guarantee that the numbers on your scale are going to climb. The truth is that after a certain age, controlling your weight can prove more challenging. However, if you maintain a healthy diet and a regular exercise routine, you may find you actually lose weight during menopause.
- Women in menopause have to pee all the time. Bladder tissue does tend to thin during menopause and the urethra becomes more prominent, making incontinence and urgency an issue for some menopausal women. However, Kegel exercises, vaginal estrogen treatments, and medications can provide relief for this problem.
- My sex drive will disappear after menopause. In fact, some women report an increase in libido during menopause, attributing it to a greater sense of freedom (empty nest!) and relief from fears of unplanned pregnancy. Low libido during menopause may be a sign of hormone imbalance, which can be addressed with Hormone Therapy (HT).
- If I have surgical menopause, I won’t have any menopause symptoms. Surgical menopause occurs after of a total hysterectomy (removal of uterus, cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes) or partial hysterectomy (removal of the uterus only). While natural menopause sets in gradually, surgical menopause can come on rapidly because there is a drastic shift in hormonal balance.
- Menopause brings on the blues. Studies performed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists indicate that menopause, in and of itself, does not cause depression. You may, however, experience mood swings or foggy thinking due to hormonal imbalances during menopause, which can be addressed with a variety of treatments, including Hormone Therapy.
- Being in menopause means I’m old. Like so many things in life, your attitude can make a huge difference. Menopause simply indicates a time of change in your life and new possibilities for your future. Changes in lifestyle, parenting, sexual liberty, and even freedom from menstruation are things to be celebrated!
- Estrogen Replacement Therapy and Hormone Therapy are dangerous. While not everyone is a perfect candidate for ERT or HT, many women report significant relief from menopausal symptoms after undergoing hormone treatments. It’s important to remember that no medication or medical treatment is without risks, so it’s critical to discuss all treatment options with a medical professional.
Separate the Truths From the Myths About Menopause Today!
If you’re suffering from menopause symptoms that are making you miserable or impacting relationships, it’s important to find a solution that brings you relief. The medical team at Balance Hormone Center is ready to help you discover if ERT or HT could make menopause more manageable for you.