You don’t want to think about (much less talk about) it. As a matter of fact, menopause is practically a dirty word to most women.
There are valid reasons for the fear, worry, and sadness this stage of life inspires but there’s something else you should know.
There’s a lot of misinformation and outright myths about it, too.
As a woman rapidly approaching this terrifying milestone, I’ve felt my share of anxiety about it. I dread the weight gain, weird hair growth, and hot flashes described in detail on health blogs.
And then I reminded myself…
Just because something is on the internet doesn’t make it true! Before we can get to menopause facts, let’s talk about the myths that make the rounds most often.
Top 5 Menopause Myths
- You’re going to get menopause around the age of 50. The average age women enter menopause is around 52 – but an average means there are people who start in their 30s and those who don’t get it until their 60s. In this, you won’t know until you get there.
- Loss of libido is to be expected. There’s nothing normal about a loss of your sex drive (no matter what doctors tell you). Hormonal imbalances that may lower libido can be corrected naturally. Vaginal dryness can be addressed with proper lubrication. If the issue is emotional stress or relationship issues, don’t ignore it!
- You’ll know you’re in menopause when you get hot flashes. These little buggers are infamous for making women on television and the big screen miserable. That’s how you know you’re menopausal! Not necessarily. For many women, fatigue, stress, difficulty concentrating, hair loss, or other things that aren’t “usual” for you could be the first sign that things are changing. I hope I’m one of the 3% of women who never get hot flashes. A woman can dream!
- It’s impossible to avoid gaining weight. A woman in peri-menopause or menopause experiences changes in her hormones that can make it more difficult to lose weight. However, lowering carb consumption, eating nutrient-dense foods, exercising, getting enough sleep, and keeping your stress down remain the best way to control weight no matter what stage of life you’re in.
- You won’t produce hormones post-menopause. This is the biggest (false) myth about menopause. Every day that you’re alive, you’re going to have hormones in your body. How much your body makes lowers because you no longer need as much for reproduction (and about half your production of estrogen and progesterone moves to your adrenal glands). You can protect your hormone levels with the right diet and lifestyle changes.
If you search for “menopause myths” on the internet, you might be shocked at so many of the things we’ve blindly believed that are absolutely untrue.
Exploring Menopause Facts
Now, let’s talk facts.
During my research, I realized that women are almost painfully overlooked in many areas by the medical community at large. Unless a doctor or facility specializes in the care of women, there remains a “don’t ask, don’t tell” vibe about the common issues we face.
I imagine, for women in small towns all over the world who don’t have access to a gynecologist specifically trained in treating the female body, this can be a difficult hurdle to overcome.
The internet has definitely helped. Trying to find information at the library to answer medical questions (when you really didn’t know how to ask your doctor) was a nightmare. Here are the five most important things you need to know about menopause all in one place.Women are almost painfully overlooked in many areas by the medical community at large. #observeClick To Tweet
Top 5 Menopause Facts
- You’re still “you” after menopause. Going through this stage of your life doesn’t change your attractiveness, intelligence, or desirability. Our modern world puts a heavy focus on “youth” when we could use a lot more in the way of “wisdom” gained from life experience. Don’t let negative thoughts infect the love you have for yourself. In fact, you may find that being free from monthly menstruation and pregnancy risk gives you something of a personal self-esteem boost!
- It can take 3-5 years to fully transition through menopause. Your periods may suddenly stop (rare) but more likely they’ll be a little weird for a year or so. Heavy flow, light flow, cramps, no cramps, and you might even miss a cycle as your ovaries cycle down. This is known as perimenopause. When everything stops for good, you’re in menopause.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is not a must. This is a choice only you can make! If you opt for HRTs, talk to your doctor in detail about benefits and risks. Scientists recommend that women limit the amount of time they spend on synthetic hormones due to increased risk of clots, heart disease, and cancer. You want to ask for the lowest effective dose available.
- There are natural ways to manage the symptoms of perimenopause. Hot flashes, depression, mood swings, weight fluctuation, and more during this period of change can make even the most optimistic person feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Therapy, regular exercise, a nutrient-dense diet, plenty of quality sleep, supplements to guard against bone or muscle loss, and vaginal lubricants to ease dryness or pain during sex.
- Until you haven’t had a period for one year, you can still get pregnant. As your ovaries cycle down, your monthly menstruation fluctuates – and so does fertility. If you want to be certain you don’t become pregnant during this time, continue using contraception!
It’s okay to be nervous. I’m sure most of us are about such an event looming ahead.
After all, I hate menstruation with a deep, burning passion but it’s something that’s been part of my life for almost four decades! Sort of like kicking that crappy significant other out of your life after putting up with their foolishness for way too long. Welcome, but still a shock.
Take these menopause facts and myths with you…and remember! This is a life change (not a life end). It’s a transition to another aspect of your personal journey.
This part – like the others that came before it – can be as fulfilling, as enthralling, as the rest.