5 Common Myths About Menopause
Before we tackle the myths and misconceptions of menopause, let’s get a clear picture of what menopause is. It is a biological process where women in their 40s to 50s experience a natural decline in reproductive hormones. Menopause is diagnosed after one has gone 12 months without their menstrual period.
Now that the concept of menopause has been touched upon, let’s look at some it’s widespread misconceptions.
1. "Your period will suddenly disappear”
As opposed to your optimistic expectations, menopause doesn’t instantly stop your periods; never to return again. A common symptom of menopause is that women begin to have irregular periods that are different than usual: lighter, heavier, shorter or longer. Only a small percentage (10%) of lucky women stop menstruating completely without seeing any prior irregularity in their periods.
2. “The symptoms start immediately”
The common symptoms of menopause include pain during sexual intercourse, fatigue, night sweats, hot flashes, insomnia, irregular menstruation, anxiety, irritability, etc.
Contrary to popular belief, most women experience these symptoms during perimenopause (time before menopause) and ordinarily end about a year after menopause starts. The symptoms occur during perimenopause because of the changing levels of estrogen (hormone produced by ovaries) and progesterone (hormone released by ovaries). This phase can last anywhere from one to several years.
Some women also undergo cognitive decline including depression, anxiety, feeling forgetful, “fuzzy” or like you’re “going crazy”, medication side effects, poor nutrition, stress, and thyroid dysfunction.
3. "Menopause is nature’s birth control”
The most well-known misconception about menopause is that women can’t conceive while being menopausal. That is, in fact, incorrect. You can get pregnant during the menopausal and perimenopausal stages. Your cycle may become irregular, often with an erratic pattern of time between periods. It is only after a year without a period, when you are considered to be “through menopause,” and can no longer conceive.
It is important to note that, in the pretence of being infertile during menopause and not using protection for intercourse, you could contract STDs and STIs, such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, or even HIV/AIDS. You are also at risk of complicated, and in some cases fatal, unwanted pregnancy.
Ignoring the happy and wholesome endings of Father of the Bride 2 and Badhai Ho, one must look past the fictional deceptions.
4. “Hormonal Therapy is the only solution”
There are a lot of techniques used to reduce the symptoms of menopause. Even though hormone therapy helps treat hot flashes, insomnia, and more without fear of an increased risk of breast cancer, it may not be for everyone. Especially for those who’ve had breast or uterine cancer, unexplained uterine bleeding, liver disease, blood clots, or cardiovascular diseases. Other alternatives like dietary changes (a whole-foods diet: high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, high-quality protein and dairy products), herbal supplements, yoga and meditation can also help curb symptoms and make you feel “like yourself again”.
5. “It will reduce your sex drive”
It is reported that some women feel a decrease in their sexual desire and arousal during menopause (oral hormone therapy may help), but research has shown that menopausal women with partners don’t experience difficulty in sexual satisfaction, frequency of intercourse, or trouble reaching orgasm. The only small change required may be the usage of lube (preferably a pH balanced and preservative-free one) because when the estrogen levels drop during menopause, there is less blood flow to the vaginal tissue and thus, more dryness.
Sometimes women may have a difficult time dealing with menopause but it is important to remember that your feelings are valid and you should consult a doctor if any of the aforementioned symptoms start affecting your everyday life. Regardless of the misinformation you may have heard about menopause, either through hearsay or on the internet, we hope this blog has been informative and helpful!
Topics like these -menopause and women’s health issues in general, are important conversations to be had. Share this post with your friends and family to help #BreakTheShush