Many people believe that menopause always starts with hot flashes and weight gain. Is this true or is it a myth? While it’s true that menopause often results in hot flashes, one-fourth of all women experience no hot flashes as a result going through menopause.
There are other myths about menopause that circulate in the common press and as folklore.
What are some common myths many people believe about menopause?
- 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 happens when a woman stops having periods for a consecutive 12 months. Symptoms of menopause can happen many years prior to the cessation of menses so that things like fatigue, mood swings, irritability, hot flashes, night sweats and weight gain can happen while you are still having periods. Some women experience menopausal symptoms up to thirteen years before actually having cessation of periods.
- Weight gain always happens in 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 exercise 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. Eating healthy can also prevent the weight gain seen in some women going through menopause.
- 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 happen soon after surgery. Natural menopause, on the other hand is a gradual phenomenon in which there are hot flashes that come and go, a gradual reduction in periods, and symptoms that can be much less severe than is seen in surgical menopause. Women who have had an ovariectomy (removal of the ovaries) suffer from 2 times the risk of low testosterone syndrome, which can have a significant impact on the woman’s libido and sexual enjoyment.
- Libido always decreases at the time of menopause. What’s true is that sex can be an enjoyable activity 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 happen in every situation. Some women will retain their sex drive and will enjoy sex just as much as before undergoing menopause.
- The first menopausal sign is hot flashes. The truth is that only ¾ of women will experience hot flashes but other women will experience other symptoms as the first sign that they are in menopause. Other symptoms that can occur include the following:
- Irregular periods
- Mood swings
- Hair loss
- Decreased libido
- Weight gain
- Food cravings
- Heavy periods
- Fuzzy thinking or “brain fog”
- 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 the woman 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.
- The older you are when menses start, the older you will be when menopause begins. In fact, many times, the opposite thing happens and the earlier a woman has the onset of menses, the later she will be when her periods finally stop. It is difficult to predict when a woman goes through menopause and it depends on several factors, including the age when your mother when through menopause, whether or not you smoke, whether or not you drink alcohol (which delays menopause), and how many pregnancies you have had (more pregnancies mean you may have menopause later in life.
- 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 things you might experience as a 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.
Feel free to share the following infographic with other women. Let’s stop the spread of these myths!