Women's Health Thursday April 26, 2012

Dispelling myths about menopause

Menopause is the time during a women’s life when sex hormone levels start to fall, affecting fertility and eventually causing menstruation to stop for good. Menopause is most likely to occur during a women’s 50’s, but can sometimes occur earlier, however this is every rare. For some women menopause can be uncomfortable and a distressing, this is sometimes amplified by the fact that women expect menopause to be a disruptive experience. Although it is, there are also many myths about the conditions that could cause unnecessary anxiety about this very natural part of a women’s life.

Recent research mentioned in the media is a clear example of potentially misleading information about menopause, in my opinion. According to the research the time menopause starts can be influenced by habits women have when they are younger, such as smoking or diet. However this can only influence when menopause starts by a year or two, and the research didn’t really take into consideration other lifestyle factors that may have a bearing as it was mainly based on answers provided by women on a questionnaire. Although research like this is undoubtedly important to medical science, I don’t think we should be taking any unverified results as doctrine yet. This post will look at five of the common myths about menopause and what you should know about them.

Myth #1 - You won’t fall pregnant after menopause

This not entirely true. It’s normal to assume that you won’t fall pregnant once your period stops, but it is still possible for you to fall pregnant after you’ve stopped menstruating, so you should still use the pill for at least two years after your period stops if you are under 50 and at least a year if you are over the age of 50.

Myth #2 - You won’t have a sex drive after menopause

Changes in sex drive aren’t just necessarily influenced just by menopause and many factors can play a part, however, during your menopause, sex hormone levels tend to fall quite drastically, this includes oestrogen and testosterone, which plays an important role in a women’s sex drive. Although, it’s possible for your sex drive to diminish during and after menopause, it doesn’t mean that you won’t want to have sex at all; in fact some women don’t report any changes at all. There are also those women who find that their sex drive improves after menopause.

Myth #3 - You’ll put on weight after

Some women do experience weight gain as they reach middle-age and this is often associated with hormonal changes during this time. However, there is no clinical proof of this, and it’s more likely that a tendency to gain weight has to do with the fact that we become less active as we grow older.

Myth #4 - If your mother had a bad experience during menopause, it’s likely that you’ll have a tough time too

Although it is often times the case that women start to experience menopause at a similar age as their mothers, this isn’t the case all the time and shouldn’t be an indication of when you are likely to experience symptoms. Every case is different and symptoms can be dependent on many other variables.

Myth #5 - The younger you are when you have your period, the younger you’ll be when you reach menopause

There is no real way to predict when a woman will experience menopause and just because your period started early, it doesn’t mean that you’ll get your menopause earlier, unless there is a specific reason that could be causing it. Early menopause in a women’s 40’s is also very rare and affects around 1% of women.

If you are worried about menopause, it’s a good plan to speak to your doctor as they will be able to provide you with the best advice on how to deal with your symptoms. Should you be unsure about the symptoms you are experiencing you could do a home menopause test to provide you with a clearer indication, as symptoms experienced during the premenopausal phase can often be ambiguous in nature and overlooked.

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