When women hear the term menopause, it can bring about trepidation due to the sheer number of horror stories floating around. However, menopause isn’t all bad, and it’s certainly nothing to be fearful of. Separating fact from fiction is the first step in understanding menopause and getting over this fear. There are some common myths surrounding menopause, and it’s time these were dispelled so women can embrace this period and approach it with comfort rather than worry.
Myth #1: Menopause causes depression
By nature, women are twice as likely to experience depression than men. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has found, however, that it is not menopause itself that causes depression, but the hormone changes that occur throughout that time.
Hormonal changes can be responsible for symptoms such as mood swings, but going through menopause itself does not automatically mean that you will be depressed. Do not look at menopause as a period of depression, rather a period in which you’re more prone to giving into sporadic feelings and emotions.
Myth #2: Menopause causes weight gain
Physiologically, women gain weight during their middle years (the ages of 35-55) due to a slower metabolism. This also happens to be the same age range in which menopause tends to begin, and so many women attribute their weight gain to menopause. However this is not necessarily the case. Simply being aware of your diet when going through menopause, and ensuring you exercise regularly, can be enough to ensure you don’t gain weight – and this is true whether you’re at menopausal age or not.
Myth #3: Menopause ruins your sex life
This is simply untrue. In fact, many women find a new sense of self and maturity after experiencing menopause, which can actually liberate them and improve their sex lives. The fact that there is no risk of pregnancy is also considered liberating by some. Changes in hormone levels can cause dryness, but this can be treated with vaginal oestrogen or lubricants and has no direct effect on your libido.
Myth #4: Menopause starts at 50
Unfortunately, the human body is not uniform, and this means that the age at which menopause starts is different for every woman. Menopause is identified by not having a period for a consecutive 12 months, and this can start as early as the 30s for some women. Most commonly, however, menopause begins around the age range of 45-55.
Myth #5: Menopause starts with hot flushes
Hot flushes are a common experience in menopause, and are often referenced in the media when describing menopause. While they can be a common symptom, however, they do not signify the onset of menopause. The first signs that you’re experiencing menopause could be one of a number of these and not limited to: fatigue, irregular periods, cravings, anxiety, and even hair loss.
Myth #6: Menopause causes urinary incontinence
This is something that women fear, and again, the media is responsible for perpetuating this myth. While it’s true that some women of menopausal age do experience a weakened bladder, this is often due to other factors such as excess weight, bladder infections, or simply childbirth. Good hygiene and diet, coupled with pelvic floor exercises, are a good way to prevent urinary incontinence.
Myth #7: Menopause symptoms are severe for all women
This is more to do with the fact that women who experience severe symptoms tend to be more vocal about it than those who don’t. The truth is, every woman experiences different symptoms at different degrees of severity. Some symptoms are mild and don’t cause many issues, but it all comes down to the individual and their own interpretation of the experience and sensations they are going through.
With so many myths and stories floating around the media and even in social circles, it’s easy to become fearful of the so-called effects and symptoms of menopause. While it’s a significant change for all women, don’t believe everything you read or hear. Menopause is definitely something that should not be feared, and approaching this period with a healthy mindset and outlook is better than approaching it with fear and concern, which can only go on to exacerbate and make you more aware of the symptoms.