Menopause myths and questions answered by an expert

By planetm | July 24, 2021

Myths and false beliefs about menopause are common, whether wondering about symptoms, signs or treatments. Menopause expert Dee Murry is here to bust 7 common menopause myths

Every woman will go through menopause, but there are many whispers about the signs of menopause, its symptoms and treatments, which are, in fact, myths. For a long time, women have been dealing with it on their own, leaving them unnerved at each rumour they hear.

What is menopause?

Menopause typically takes place after the age of 40 for women. It happens when ovaries can no longer release an egg each month, and menstruation stops. It can take up to 10 years for the cycle to stop altogether.

Perimenopause is used to describe the lead-up to the event when our periods stop. Menopause happens after 12 months and one day without a bleed, after which you are in post-menopause.

The sooner you understand your health, the easier you can make choices that are right for you. It’s time to be open and honest, so Dee Murry, menopause expert for Curves, is here to break down the most common myths.

Myth 1: You don’t need to use birth control when going through menopause

Even though women’s fertility starts to fall after 30, late pregnancy is still possible after menopause as fluctuations in the lead-up can make some women more fertile.

Medical recommendations state that women who reach menopause at 50 or over should use contraception for 12 months after their last period. However, women who reach it under 50 should use contraception for two years after their last period.

Myth 2: It only happens to women over 50

No, it doesn’t. The average age is 51, but 1 in 100 women go through it under 40 and 1 in 1,000 under the age of 30.

When it happens under 40, it’s referred to as ‘Premature Ovarian Insufficiency’. It’s often mistaken for stress and anxiety as the symptoms are generic, such as tiredness and concentration issues.

If you go more than six months without your natural period or contraception use, you should seek medical advice.

Myth 3: Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is dangerous

Almost all medication carries risks. The danger most women worry about with HRT is breast cancer. HRT does not increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

The rate of breast cancer in women aged 50-59 is 23 per 1000 if HRT is not used. The additional risk is estimated to be around 5 extra cases per 1000 women using HRT for 7.5 years or more. This is a risk reduction compared to being overweight or smoking.

Most women will find a form of medication to suit them if they stay on HRT for a longer duration of time. If your symptoms are affecting your day-to-day lives, it is beneficial to try.

Myth 4: Menopause will cause weight gain, hot flushes, and memory loss

Our hormones influence the way our brain and the nervous system communicates with our body. Everyone has differing symptoms; some women have more intense reactions than others.

Hot flushes might be worse during perimenopause, so once it progresses, your symptoms might calm down.

Memory loss and weight can occur, but they are not always linked to menopause. These can affect ageing in general, so it’s difficult to pinpoint the root of change.

Myth 5: It will negatively impact your sex life

Menopause can reduce your libido due to many factors such as hormone levels, pain during intercourse and vaginal dryness. The emotional impact of the change can also impact your attitude towards sex.

However, some women experience increased libido as testosterone levels increase for a period before declining. Also, it can be freeing for women to no longer have their periods.

Myth 6: My bladder will be uncontrollable

Bladder change is common since the women’s urogenital area is affected by the menopausal drop in oestrogen levels.

The lack of oestrogen may cause your pelvic muscles to weaken. Urge incontinence, also called overactive bladder, is caused by overly active or irritated bladder muscles.

Many believe that this is inevitable during menopause, but it isn’t, and there are many ways to prevent and treat this. You can perform an easy exercise called ‘Kegal Exercise’ any time of the day to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.

Clench your muscles as if you were holding in your urine for around 10 seconds and relax. Repeat this several times a day to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.

Myth 7: I started my period at a young age, so I will reach menopause earlier

This is untrue. There is not a set number of periods you go through before you reach the start of menopause. Women who started their period as early as age 11 started their menopause around the age of 52.

For more information about women’s health, visit Curves.