Six of the greatest myths about menopause… and the truth
For women, menopause has always seemed to be a stage of life – like puberty and periods – that has been hidden away until it’s ‘your time’ to discover it. Entering one’s 40’s one knew that somewhere along the decade ‘the change’ was going to happen.
Menopause was talked about like cartoon characters – itchy, bitchy, sweaty, sleepy, bloated, forgetful and psycho.
And so you girded your loins and waited to turn into a hormonal Jekyll and Hyde and for your life and health to unravel.
But one thing is true about menopause – the lies. So here are a few of the misconceptions with the truths.
Lie #1 Goodbye Sex Life!
While menopausal symptoms might contribute to a decline in your libido, so can being with a partner for a long time! Or just being tired. Also, losing confidence and not feeling like a sexual being as one gets older is not uncommon.
Going to your doctor can help identify if it’s purely due to menopause and hormonal changes or other factors like stress, depression, medication, or tiredness.
If it is hormonal, then a prescription for hormonal replacements might be the answer. Female libido enhancers can help to balance the equilibrium of estrogen and progesterone that affects sex drive. As mentioned, always check with your GP
Lie #2 I’ll No Longer Be Attractive
Well, let’s get that one right out of the way.
It’s amazing to know that the girls in the current Sex And The City series ‘And Just Like That’ are older than the first season actresses in the Golden Girls (1985). What a difference 37 years makes in people’s perception of ‘old’. With better beauty technology, health education, and understanding, women in their 50’s really are the new 40’s.
Lie #3 Pain and dryness during sex is inevitable with menopause
If the urge is there but the down there is still refusing to flow, then a lubricant may be just the handy addition to help smooth proceedings.
Vaginal atrophy can also be caused when the vaginal walls thin and become dry. If lube isn’t working, a pessary can be prescribed by the doctor that will restore the levels of oestrogen in the vagina.
Lie #4 All hormone treatments are bad
A study by the WHI (Women’s Health Initiative) that started the scare has been proven to be flawed in its findings and research.
In this study, the average age of women who participated was 63 but 25% of them were over 70 when they started their hormone replacement therapy. The study showed that there was a 26% increase in breast cancer on HRT compared with the placebo. That translates to 38 HRT women per 10,000 as opposed to 30 placebo women per 10,000.
The risk of breast cancer from taking HRT in these older women was similar to the risk reported with obesity and low physical activity. As shown in an article by Australian women’s health GP, Dr. Ginni Mansberg, the study also showed the risk of breast cancer from using HRT was only slightly higher than the risk of drinking one glass of wine a night, but less than the risk of drinking two glasses of wine a night.
There is a resurgence now in GPs prescribing menopausal hormone therapy (MHT), which has been known to help many women have trouble-free menopause. If this is something you’re considering, please consult your doctor or women’s health specialist.
Lie #5 Menopause makes you gain weight
Although menopause changes where you may gain weight (on your abdomen instead of your hips, for example), aging is the real culprit behind middle-aged weight gain. Many people are likely to gain fat as they age. This is due to several factors – less physical activity, poor diet, and poor sleep all lead to decreased muscle mass.
To combat this it is important to keep up the muscle mass by exercising. Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue so keeping active is the key. Even NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) like gardening, walking from room to room and even fidgeting, can account for about 100-800 daily calories used. Lifting weights or calisthenic training (easier to do at home) can help to burn up the calories and maintain a healthy weight.
Lie #6 There are no benefits to menopause
Post-menopausal life does have its significant upsides.
The liberation from worrying about contraceptives and the stress of missing a period are gone. The fumbling with a condom days are over (unless of course you are single and enjoying exploring your ‘Mature’ sex drive), no pills to miss taking and you’ve bid ‘tot ziens’ to your Dutch cap.
It also ends the ‘red flag days’, ‘painters in’, ‘the curse’, ‘time of the month’, ‘the flow’, ‘Aunt Flo’, ‘on the rag’, ‘shark week’, ‘crimson tide’, or whatever you called it… it’s done and over!
No more tampon string hanging out your swimming costume or having to balance a plank of sanitary pad between your crotch. And no more PMS or period pains.
Also, of course, the symptoms of menopause subside once your reach post-menopause.
Post-menopausal women use this as a natural time to take stock of their lives. They take a fresh look at their relationships and professions and consider themselves and their health more and with greater self-assurance.
“There is no greater power in the world than the zest of a postmenopausal woman.” – anthropologist Margaret Mead.