8 Common Menopause Myths

Menopause MythsMenopause Myths include that fact that many people think that hot flashes are the first sign of menopause.

Is this true or is it a myth?

While it is true that menopause often results in hot flashes, one-fourth of all women do not experience any hot flashes as they go through menopause.

There are other menopause myths that circulate in the mainstream media and as folklore.

What are some common menopause myths many people believe?

  1. Menopause always begins at 50. This is a myth. While the average age of menopause is 51 years of age, a woman can go through menopause as early as in her 30's or as late as the early 60's. Menopause occurs when a woman stops having menstrual periods for 12 consecutive months. Symptoms of menopause such as fatigue, mood swings, irritability, hot flashes, night sweats and weight gain can occur several years prior to the cessation of menses, i.e., while a woman is still having menstrual periods. Some women experience menopausal symptoms up to thirteen years before their menstrual periods actually cease.

2. Weight gain always occurs during menopause. Weight gain is complicated when it comes to menopause. While some women will gain weight around the waist, thighs, and hips at the time of menopause, women who engage in regular physical activity may actually lose weight during this period of time. The less estrogen you have, the more likely it is that you will have fat accumulation around the hips and thighs. Making healthy food choices can also prevent the weight gain seen in some women going through menopause.

3. Surgical menopause and natural menopause are the same. These are actually very different experiences. Women who have their ovaries removed, as part of a total hysterectomy will have immediate and marked changes in their physical health. Hot flashes are more severe and occur soon after surgery. Natural menopause, on the other hand, is a gradual phenomenon in which hot flashes may come and go, menstrual periods gradually decrease, and symptoms can be much less severe than is seen in surgical menopause. Women who have had both their ovaries surgically removed will have a reduction of testosterone levels by 50%, which can have a significant impact on a woman’s libido and sexual pleasure.

4. Libido always decreases at the time of menopause. What is true is that sexual activity can be enjoyable at any age. The lack of estrogen in the postmenopausal woman as well as the decrease in testosterone can affect a woman’s sex drive but this doesn’t occur in all cases. Vaginal dryness is a symptom experienced by about fifty percent of post-menopausal women which causes pain during sexual intercourse. However, some women will retain their sex drive and enjoy sex just as much as before experiencing menopause.

5. The first menopausal sign is hot flashes is another menopause myth. The truth is that only three quarters of women will experience hot flashes but other women will experience other symptoms as signs that they are in menopause. Other symptoms that can occur include the following:

Night Sweats

Anxiety

Irregular periods

Difficulty Sleeping

Fatigue

Irritability

Depression

Mood swings

Hair loss

Decreased libido

Weight gain

Food cravings

Heavy periods

Forgetfulness

Fuzzy thinking or “brain fog”

6. Women don’t produce any hormones after menopause. You will still have hormones, even after menopause. The adrenal glands produce half of the estrogen and progesterone in postmenopausal women so that small amounts of circulating estrogen and progesterone are still found in women after menopause. This is why some women experience no vaginal dryness, hot flashes, mood swings, and night sweats, even after going through the perimenopausal years.

7. The older you are when menses start, the older you will be when menopause begins. In fact, many times, the opposite occurs...the earlier a woman's menses start, the later she will experience cessation of her menstrual periods. It is difficult to predict when a woman will go through menopause and it depends on several factors, including the age when her mother went through menopause, whether or not she smokes, whether or not she drinks alcohol (which delays menopause), and how many pregnancies she has had (the more pregnancies, the later in life menopause may occur).

8. Another menopause myth is that menopause only results in physical symptoms. Menopause affects the brain as well as the body. Mood swings, depression, cognitive changes, and anxiety are all typical symptoms a woman might experience as part of menopause. This is because there are estrogen receptors in the brain that affect the brain’s neurotransmitters, resulting in mental and emotional symptoms.

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