When it comes to women’s health, there are a surprising number of myths that circulate, often getting mixed up with genuine medical knowledge. At best this can be frustrating – at worst, downright dangerous for the people who believe these myths. With that in mind, here are four myths about perimenopause and menopause that are absolutely not true.
Myth #1: Menopause only affects older women
False: Menopause and its symptoms can occur in women as early as their 30s or 40s or even younger, due to medical conditions or treatments such as chemotherapy or surgery. This is known as premature menopause.
Premature menopause can also be caused by genetic disorders, autoimmune disorders, or radiation or chemotherapy treatments. Women who experience premature menopausal symptoms may also be at a higher risk of osteoporosis and other health complications.
Age is not a factor for menopause or the symptoms of perimenopause as hormonal changes can affect women of all ages.
Myth #2: Menopause means the end of a woman’s sexual life.
False: Menopause does not mean the end of a woman’s sexual life. While certain physical changes may affect sexual function, as well as libido, many women continue to enjoy a healthy and satisfying sex life during and after menopause.
Vaginal dryness, which can significantly reduce sexual enjoyment and is a common symptom of menopause, can be treated with lubricants or low-dose vaginal oestrogen creams. Additionally, other treatments such as pelvic floor muscle exercises, and counselling, can help women to improve their sexual experience and retain a sense of confidence.
Myth #3: Menopause is only characterised by hot flushes and night sweats.
False: Menopause can cause a variety of symptoms including hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, mood swings, lower sexual desire and sleep disturbances. However, some women may not experience any of these symptoms.
Additionally, menopause can also lead to other potentially serious health issues, such as osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. It’s important for women to be aware of these potential risks, and to discuss them with their doctor if they experience any potential menopausal symptoms.
Myth #4: Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the only treatment option for menopause symptoms.
False: HRT is one option for treating menopause symptoms, but it is not the only option. Other options include lifestyle changes, such as exercise and stress management, as well as alternative therapies such as acupuncture, menopause supplements, and cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT).
Hormone replacement therapy can have some potential risks, such as an increased risk of breast cancer and blood clots, so it’s essential that you weigh up the benefits and risks of HRT with the help of a medical professional before starting treatment.
It’s important to mention that menopause can have a powerful emotional impact on women as well. Many women may experience feelings of sadness, anxiety, and depression, which are often related to changes in hormones. Seeking emotional support from friends, family, or a therapist can help to alleviate these symptoms, or at least help women understand them.
Menopause is a natural process that can occur at different ages, and can lead to a variety of symptoms. It’s important for women to be aware of the potential risks, and to discuss them with their doctor, to try to find the most appropriate treatment options for their individual needs.
Remember, every woman’s experience with menopause is unique, and it’s essential to find what works best for you – that may be very different to how your peers deal with it, but you can still very likely find useful advice from your community of friends and family.