Women are terrified with the thought of entering menopause; they believe their life will no longer be the same and that things will just spiral downwards. I think this is because of the myths that surround menopause. With so many negative stories being told, it isn’t surprising that women begin to feel anxious about menopause. In turn, women make choices that oversimplify symptoms and treatment options. If just like pregnancy, women accept it as a part of life cycle instead of a disease and equip themselves with knowledge about menopause, the fear will vanish and they will emerge stronger than before. However, family and friends around them must also be made aware of the facts and myths that surround menopause so that it is easier for women to deal with the challenges that come with it.
Menopause is a gradual and natural process in which the ovaries produce less and less of the female hormones, estrogen, and progesterone, and menstrual periods gradually disappear. Menopause doesn’t have to be a time of confusion and anxiety. It may be a time in your life to experience fantastic wellness and a great deal of happiness. You don’t have to believe the untruths that have circulated for years. The truth is that menopause does have challenges. But these challenges are not insurmountable when women understand their body and the hormonal changes that occur during menopause. Distressing symptoms don’t have to be the norm; you can feel your best!
Let us look at some myths associated with menopause.
Myth #1: Menopause begins at 50
Menopause begins at 50…or at 42…or 36…or 61. The average woman begins menopause at 52, but it can be anywhere from your 30’s to your 60’s. Menopause is technically defined as the absence of a menstruation for a year.
Myth #2: Weight gain is inevitable in menopause
Weight-gain is an absolute in menopause but you don’t have to allow it! Weight-gain becomes more complex during menopause and is no longer simply “calories in, calories out.” Due to estrogen deficiency fat accumulates around the hips and thighs. However, despite these changes taking place in your body, you can still achieve a healthy weight. One of the best things you can do to help yourself is to eat! Excellent nutrition and lowered carbohydrates help women balance their hormones.
Myth #4: Sex drive will decrease with menopause
Approximately 50% of post-menopausal women will experience vaginal dryness which can make sex painful and this results in a drop in sexual desire. But this doesn’t have to happen! Speak with your gynecologist about solutions to this.
Myth #5: The first sign of menopause is hot flashes
Hot flashes are a part of menopause but not always the first sign. Your first sign of menopause could be any of these symptoms: Fatigue, Anxiety, Irregular periods, Irritability, Mood swings, Depression, Weight gain, Hair loss, Cravings, Fuzzy thinking, Low libido, Forgetfulness, Heavy menses.
Myth #7: After menopause, your body doesn’t produce hormones
No matter how far past menopause you are, know that you still have hormones! Your body still produces them but in smaller amounts.
Myth #8: The older you are when you get your period, the older you’ll be when you go through menopause
For many women, just the opposite is true. If you started menstruating later than usual, you may begin menopause earlier. Predicting the age you’ll begin menopause is very difficult, but there are some indicators: mother’s age at menopause; smoking may mean earlier menopause; drinking alcohol may mean later menopause; more pregnancies suggest later menopause.
Myth #9: Menopause only causes physical symptoms
Many women experience unnerving changes in their emotions, memory, and concentration during menopause due to sudden shifts in hormones. Changes in estrogen and progesterone levels may cause mood swings and increased irritability. Also, be mindful that menopause is a developmental milestone in women’s lives. It’s sometimes referred to as adolescence in reverse. Many women begin to reflect on who they are and what they want to do with the rest of their life.
Myth #10: The best way to get through menopause is to take hormones
There are several approaches to assist during menopause. I prefer the natural approach. However, for some women, HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) may be ideal. Research has shown that the most effective and lasting way to manage symptoms of hormonal imbalance is to make dietary and lifestyle changes; use nutritional supplements and herbal remedies to build a strong foundation
Women do need to note that menopause can bring the onset of Osteoporosis and Heart Disease. This just means that you have to be extra vigilant. For example to avoid osteoporosis weight-bearing exercise such as walking, stair climbing, weight training, and a diet high in calcium and Vitamin D can help. Regular bone density scans must also be done. To safeguard against heart disease, have your blood pressure and levels of triglycerides, fasting blood glucose and LDL, HDL and total cholesterol checked regularly.
Audrey Hepburn once said about aging gracefully; she said: “The beauty of a woman, with passing years, only grows”. So women should look at menopause as a new beginning and look forward to a fulfilling life ahead.