Menopause is a subject that many people don’t want to talk about. For women experiencing menopause, they don’t want to talk about it because it makes them feel old. For people not experiencing it, menopause is a mystery. It is not surprising that there are several myths concerning menopause.
Myth #1: Menopause means you are getting old
This is one I can relate to. I had children in my thirties, had younger friends and worked with younger people so I felt old when menopause was mentioned. The medias obsession with young women doesn’t help. And the fitness industry runs classes for older adults starting at age 55.
But here is something to consider. The average age of menopause is 45 to 55 , but it can earlier due to surgery or in some cases because of diseases, lifestyle factors or just genetics. The average life expectancy is 84 for women in Canada. Some women can easily spend more time post menopausal than reproductive, especially if you have surgical menopause.
Chronological age is just a number that doesn’t relate to how fast your body is actually aging. Biological age is related to how healthy your body and mind are, but mindset plays a factor as well. If you think you are old, you start acting old. Think of menopause as the start of a new stage of your life, not the beginning of the end.
Myth #2: Menopause only affects female reproductive hormones
Menopause is defined by a significant drop in female reproductive hormones, mostly estrogen. Progesterone also drops during menopause. But the hormones in our bodies are tied together and menopause can also affect levels of thyroid hormones, insulin, cortisol, and leptin.
This means that several health issues can occur during menopause. Women may develop a thyroid disorder, chronically high cortisol, experience weight gain, or develop pre-diabetes. Although these conditions are not directly related to menopause, the changes in hormones that occur during menopause makes them more likely.
Myth #3: HRT is the only thing that reduces menopause symptoms
Many women swear by hormone replacement therapy. It comes in many forms – synthetic hormones, bioidentical, pill form, patches, or creams. It can contain estrogen, progesterone, or both. If you are overwhelmed by symptoms of menopause then you may want to check with your doctor to see if hormone replacement is right for you. For most women, HRT helps to reduce the symptoms of menopause.
Many women choose to forgo HRT for personal or medical reasons. There are other things that reduce the symptoms of menopause. Here is a list of natural methods that can help to reduce menopause symptoms:
- Stress reduction techniques
- Dietary changes
For some women, these techniques will be enough, for other women HRT may be the only thing that provides relief.
Myth #4: Every woman experiences hot flashes the same way
Have you ever complained about hot flashes and had another woman tell you they are nothing to complain about. Or perhaps you are the one that doesn’t get severe hot flashes. But the truth is that women experience hot flashes differently and at different times. Some will not get hot flashes at all, some will have them so severely that they are drenched in sweat. Most women get hot flashes during perimenopause, but some don’t start until after their last period. For most women, they last for x years, but for some women, they last into their 70s.
Myth #5: HRT has too many risks to be used
I mentioned earlier that changes to diet and exercise are often enough to reduce menopause symptoms, but some women may experience very severe symptoms and may be tempted to use hormone replacement therapy. However the reported risks of HRT may scare them away from it.
If you are experiencing severe symptoms of menopause, then you might want to discuss hormone replacement therapy with your physician to get a better understanding. There are several different forms of hormone therapy including pill form, creams, and patches. The hormones may be synthetic or bioidentical. Estrogen and progesterone are typically the hormones that are taken. They all have different risks and benefits.
The risks depend on the type of hormone replacement used, the dosage, the amount and the combination of each hormone, how long the hormones are taken and how far past menopause you are. Generally the risks of cancer, heart disease and blood clots are low and in some cases they are statistically insignificant compared to the risks faced by women who don’t take any forms of hormone replacement. But the risks do exist so this is a personal decision and you should learn as much as you can from several different sources before making the decision.
Because we don’t discuss the changes that occur during menopause enough, several myths have developed. In my Healthy Changes ebook I explain more about what happens during menopause and how you can improve your experience with exercise and healthy eating.