Life has enough challenges; there’s no need to go making up more. That’s why we’re setting the record straight about these common menopause myths.
Myth #1. Menopause means the end of your sex life
This list is about being completely honest about menopause. Too many of these myths exist because people are scared to talk about things that can get pretty personal.
That’s why our list starts with sexual health (We’ll get any blushing out of the way early).
Menopause does NOT have to signal the end of sexual desire, attractiveness, or enjoyment.
While it’s true that fluctuating and decreased estrogen and progesterone levels can affect sexual desire and vaginal elasticity, it’s far from being a given. Many women go through menopause without any disruption to their sexual health. And the women that are adversely impacted usually regain their desire and function with efforts to re-balance their hormones.
The truth is that many women experience a rejuvenated sex life during and after menopause. Freedom from the concerns of undesired pregnancy, and menstrual cycle considerations allow many women to enjoy their sex lives even more than before.
Myth #2. Menopause means you’re an old lady
This is the easiest of these myths to dispel. All we have to do is look at the numbers.
The average American woman currently lives to age 78. The average age of menopause is 51, and starting menopause at age 40 is not considered premature.
That means that a huge percentage of the average woman’s lifetime will be spent during and after menopause. It isn’t uncommon for a woman to live more than half her life after the beginning of menopause.
Menopause does represent a transition into a different phase of life, but it certainly doesn’t mean you’re elderly.
Myth #3. Menopause and hot flashes are the same thing
Hot flashes are the first thing most people think about when they hear menopause. That’s because they’re kind of… well, weird.
When else does your internal temperature take off without provocation?
But hot flashes are far from the only symptom associated with menopause. Night sweats, irregular periods, vaginal dryness, sleep problems, mood changes, and mental fogginess are all common during menopause.
The degree to which each woman will experience these symptoms varies. What’s important to note here is that hot flashes are not the defining feature of menopause. In fact, none of these symptoms are.
Menopause simply means the end of the menstrual cycle and reproductive capacity. Everything else (no matter how odd or uncomfortable) is a byproduct. And hot flashes are not guaranteed. Many women go through menopause without ever experiencing them at all!
Myth #4 . Menopause is similar for most women
While every woman eventually goes through menopause, the experience can actually vary quite a bit. Some women go through menopause in a matter of months. Others take nearly a decade to make it through the process.
The typical age range varies a surprising amount as well. Anywhere from 40 to 60 is not considered uncommon.
And just like the timing and duration, the symptoms of menopause can be very different from woman to woman. Some women actually go through menopause without any of the symptoms commonly associated with the transition. In fact, the only change that’s certain is the cessation of the menstrual cycle.
It’s been said that there are as many experiences of menopause as there are women. That’s close to the truth.
Myth #5. Weight gain is just a part of menopause
Okay, so this one’s a little hairy.
Maintaining healthy body weight can become more of a struggle for women during and after menopause. The culprit is usually declining estrogen levels. But the idea that it is unavoidable or that every woman deals with weight gain is a myth.
Estrogen and body fat are connected (That’s the reason that women carry more fat than men). So when estrogen levels begin to decline during menopause, the body can react by increasing fat reserves. Body fat stores and increases estrogen, and packing on the pounds is one way your body tries to maintain the equilibrium that it has known.
But menopause doesn’t have to mean weight gain!
They key is recognizing that things are a bit more complex than they used to be. The formula for fitness may no longer be simply calories in versus calories out, but knowledge is power. If you understand the outlook and impact of your estrogen levels, you can still achieve your goals.
The key for many women is estrogen supplementation. When you remove the obstacle of deficient estrogen levels, your results become more predictable and achievable. With the options available to modern women, there’s no need to accept unwanted weight gains.
Once your hormones are balanced, all you have to do is eat and exercise according to your goals. Easy right?
Check out this article from The New York Times about what you can expect from the battle of the bulge as you enter the years of menopause.
Myth #6. Menopause is a disease or illness
For much of the history of western culture, menopause hasn’t been openly discussed. It’s been a secret that was whispered about in the shadows, if at all.
Fortunately, times change, and menopause is no longer a dirty word.
Unfortunately, much of the public discourse that brought the subject of menopause out of hiding, also painted this natural transition as an ailment.
But even that is changing. Menopause is a natural and healthy part of the reproductive cycle. The cessation of menses is as normal as their beginning. Menopause isn’t a disease or illness, nor is it a condition that should be associated with advanced aging.
The realities of menopause are not nearly as dire in the light as they can seem in the dark. That’s why we’re happy to see women so free to discuss menopause openly and dispel the myths that often surround it. We hope we’ve done our part by putting these 6 myths to rest.