5 misconceptions about menopause
written by Laura McEwan, Health & Wellbeing Writer
For many women, the menopause can be a difficult time of life, both physically and emotionally.
Every woman is individual in how they approach menopause, and each brings their personality, life history, health issues and lifestyles into their menopause journey.
Many complain of information overload, with numerous myths and misunderstandings surrounding the process. Every woman is different, and no two menopauses will be the same.
Below you’ll find 5 misconceptions about going through the menopause, including handy advice from experts who help women just like you every day feel more confident and happy.
Women under 45 can’t be menopausal
While we all go through the menopause at some stage in our lives the age can vary quite drastically. For most women, it occurs between the age of 45-55 but some can experience the menopause earlier in their lives. Doctor Shirin Lakhani says menopause actually depends largely on when the ovaries stop producing eggs. “As a result of the ovaries shutting down the levels of hormones called oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone fall, which kick-starts menopause. Equally, some women are forced into early menopause due to ovarian failure or as a result of cancer treatments.
You need to watch what you eat
The idea that all women gain weight during the menopause simply isn’t true. A nutritious and balanced diet rich in quality natural foods is not only good for the body but also the brain. Nutritionist Kim Pearson says it’s important to make sure your diet is optimised to support a healthy weight and good mental health. “I advise menopausal women to minimise their intake of sugar and refined ‘white’ carbohydrates while basing meals on a wide variety of different vegetables, sources of protein and healthy fats. This can benefit your mental wellbeing as well as weight management.”
Every woman gets hot flashes
Hot flashes and night sweats are a common complaint, but 30% of menopausal women don’t actually suffer with them. Although many women do have this symptom, menopause affects every woman differently. Dr Lakhani says: “For some, menopausal symptoms are mild, and for a few, the only obvious symptom is the absence of a period. For those experiencing symptoms, however, there are a number of treatments available including hormone replacement therapy (HRT).”
Your sex life is over
Vaginal dryness and irritating itching can undoubtedly have an effect on the way you feel in your own body. This in turn can impact your sex life and emotional connection with your partner. However, you can rejuvenate your intimate health and in turn your libido with a new wellness treatment. Designed to restore balance to the body, a treatment was recently launched in the UK specifically for women suffering from vaginal atrophy. Dr Andrew Weber, a doctor from London, says the treatment is designed with menopausal women in mind. He says: “Shelase is this ideal for treating symptoms such as vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex, it’s perfect for women who are hoping to improve vaginal strength and enjoy their sexual relationship again, especially when combined with emotional support from a GP.” It’s important to communicate with your partner and consider the various options to feel more confident.
It’s impossible to have a baby
While it’s less likely, there are instances where women have got pregnant during or after menopause. Though this is typically down to advanced fertility treatments, such as IVF, doctors believe this can be down to a boost in oestrogen as a result of using HRT. Dr Sue Avery, a fertility expert at the Birmingham Women’s Fertility Centre, says: Older expectant mothers do need a careful watch because they are at higher risk of pregnancy-related complications such as high blood pressure and gestational diabetes.”