Menopause is a natural phase for every women, which is when they stop having their periods as the function of the ovaries cease. Now while it is true that each woman has a different menopausal experience, some of its common symptoms or phenomenons are quite inaccurate.
That is why we have prepared this post to help clear away any misconceptions you may have about menopause away just so avoid any confusion or take additional unnecessary medications that would only lead to further complications.
Lets get to the Menopause Facts and Myths!
Menopause Facts and Myths: Overview
Here are the 10 menopause myths that we’ll cover:
- All women experience hot flashes during menopause
- Periods will stop suddenly
- You stop producing reproductive hormones
- There is no cure for hot flashes during perimenopause
- Menopause only has physical symptoms
- Hormone replacement therapy isn’t safe
- You won’t have any sex drive
- You’ll gain weight during perimenopause
- It’s something to be feared
- Menopause happens at 50
Let’s find out the truth for these menopause myths. Keep on reading!
Myth #1: Every Woman Experiences The Same Kind of Hot Flashes
Truth: A study from the University of Pennsylvania reveals that 3% of women experiencing menopause never experienced a sweat. 17% of them had mild hot flashes and the rest of the 80% had moderate to severe flashes.
Some women (about 15%) continue to have hot flashes for years according to Andrea Rapkin, MD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UCLA.
And according to Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, MD, director of the Midlife Health Center at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, the cause for hot flashes isn’t that well documented. One suggested indication might be stress, but Dr. Pinkerton suggests talking to your mom can provide better clues.
Learn more about Symptoms during Perimenopause including hot flashes here.
Myth #2: Periods Will Suddenly Stop One Day
Truth: This couldn’t be further from the truth! Some women do experience short menopausal transitions (also known as perimenopause) but according to Dr. Pinkerton, it can last between 3 and 5 years due to ovary fluctuation.
During this time, you’ll start to miss periods. Once you’ve missed periods for a one year, you’ll officially have entered into menopause.
When your ovaries start fluctuating, so do your hormone levels, which can lead to periods that are too far or too close apart, too light or even too heavy. The average age when a woman has her last period is 51.
Learn more about How to Tell if Perimenopause is Ending.
Menopause Facts, Signs, and Symptoms
Myth #3: A Woman’s Body Stops Producing Hormones After Menopause
Truth: There are concerns that because the production of estrogen by the ovaries is reduced during the transition to menopause, it may mean that the body will eventually stop producing hormones eventually.
Now during perimenopause, a woman’s body undergoes a series of physical and mental changes due to estrogen and progesterone fluctuations. And although hormone production rates do decrease significantly after menopause, they don’t stop indefinitely.
Myth #4: You Have To Bear The Pain of Hot Flashes, Even If You Don’t Like It
Truth: Getting relief from hot flashes isn’t exactly as hard or impossible as you might have expected it to be. Dr. Rapkin advises to start with simple strategies such as dressing in layers along with keeping a bottle of cold water next to you.
During night sweats, it is essential to avoid hot beverages right before bedtime and keep your room slightly cool. You may get some success with black cohosh or soy supplements, but you should consult your doctor on that before you decide to take either of them.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is another strategy that is worth trying. A study from the UK showed that women with hot flashes and night sweats were able to cope better with their phenomenon.
Brisdelle is a non-hormonal medication, which your doctor may recommend for hot flashes, or even certain drugs usually prescribed for diabetes or depression. It may widen the thermoregulatory zone of your brain, thus providing relief.
If you’re still experiencing pain, then your doctor may recommend hormone replacement therapy, which can also provide belief.
It’s one of the little known menopause facts that you should know: there is help for hot flashes!
Myth #5: Menopause Only Physically Affects the Body
Truth: Women experience both emotional and physical symptoms of menopause.
Physical symptoms include:
Emotional symptoms include:
Both of these changes occur due to hormone fluctuation.
Find out more about Treatment Options for Before Menopause.
Learn more about Menopause Facts and Myths
Myth #6: Prescription Hormone Replacements Are Not Safe
Truth: Although women with certain medical conditions can avoid it, replacing estrogen that has been lost during menopause can have great benefits.
The only concerns regarding this therapy is the fact that estrogen is pro-inflammatory. If for instance, you have plaque in your blood vessels, estrogen can likely clog your arteries, which can be very bad for your heart. This is why HRT isn’t recommended for women in their late 50s or those with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity or has a history of smoking.
HRT is also not recommended for women with health problems such as unexplained vaginal bleeding or breast cancer. But Dr. Rapkin recommends this treatment for women who are 46, 48, 50, 52 and are in good health.
Myth #7: Menopause Will Nullify Your Sex Drive
Truth: About two-thirds of women aged 50-79 are very satisfied with their sexual activity. During perimenopause, deteriorating estrogen levels causes vaginal dryness, which is what makes having sex quite uncomfortable. Not to mention, the tissue in your genitals can thin out and lose their elasticity.
So for a more comfortable sex experience, Dr. Rapkin suggests using a lubricant such as coconut oil, if you aren’t using condoms. If not that, then your doctor may prescribe a vaginal ring, cream or tablet.
It’s one of the menopause facts that you need to know: You can keep on having sex!
Myth #8: You Will Gain Weight
Truth: Your metabolism may be slowing down and your hormones are in flux, but Dr. Pinkerton says weight gain is not inevitable. It is however, harder to control, but definitely not impossible.
Dr. Pinkerton says that you will have to potentially limit carbs, work on portion control and increase the amount and intensity of exercise. If you’re overweight, then losing weight will surely translate to better health in the postmenopausal years.
Find out more here: The Truth about Weight Gain in Perimenopause and Menopause.
Menopause Facts, Age and Treatment Options
Myth #9: Menopause Is Something You Should Fear
Truth: As we said earlier, it is a completely natural process for women to go through, especially in their 40s and 50s. It is not some kind of disease and should never even be treated like one.
Dr. Lubna Pal, MBBS, director of the Menopause Program at Yale School of Medicine, says that menopause is a process in which you shift from one phase of life and move to another. And being rid of periods is not such a bad thing at all as it can provide relief from menstrual abnormalities. When you factor this in, menopause isn’t so bad after all.
Myth #10: Menopause Happens at 50
Truth: Even though the average age of menopause in North America is 50, it doesn’t mean that this is when it will happen for everybody.
There are a number of factors that influence when menopause happens. However, the most important one is genetics. Ask your Mom when she went through menopause, and you’ll probably fall within a year or two of that.
Some things can bring about an earlier menopause including illness, cancer treatments, smoking, etc.
You can find out more here: When does Menopause Happen?
Menopause Facts: Have your Say!
Any comments or questions about these menopause facts and myths? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.
Tammy Ford is the resident expert for all things Women’s Health (vaginal discharge and infections, perimenopause, menstrual cycles and more) and is also a chief tester of all things eco-friendly period products. She has a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and specializes in reproductive health.
You can contact her via email: [email protected]