By Rachel Lankester, Mutton Club Editor
Menopause is a complex biological process that occurs when a woman’s body undergoes a series of hormonal changes that result in the cessation of menstrual periods. This typically occurs when a woman’s ovaries stop producing eggs, which leads to a decrease in estrogen and progesterone levels in the body.
Despite the prevalence of menopause – it happens to half the population after all – there are many myths and misconceptions about this natural transition to the post-reproductive phase of women’s lives.
One of the most persistent myths is that menopause only affects women in their 50s. However, menopause can occur anywhere from a woman’s early 40s to her late 50s, and even beyond or earlier. I was told I’d gone through menopause at 41.
The age at which menopause occurs can be influenced by a variety of factors, including genetics, lifestyle factors, and underlying medical conditions. And of course, all those who started life with a uterus will go through menopause too, so it affects the trans and non-binary community also.
Another common myth is that menopause marks the end of a woman’s sex life. While it is true that some women may experience changes in their sexual function and libido during menopause, this is not the case for all women and this may only be temporary and/or easily manageable. In fact, some women may experience an increase in sexual desire during this time, while others may find that their sex life remains unchanged.
It is also important to note that not all women experience menopause symptoms. While many women do experience symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings, others may experience very few or no symptoms at all. Some women may have a really hard time and others may not.
This is because every woman’s experience of menopause is unique, and is influenced by a range of factors, including genetics, lifestyle, and underlying medical conditions. There are some women whose periods stop and that’s the only sign they have that they have gone through menopause. Up to 25% of women do not experience symptoms to any difficult degree.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is another area where there are many myths and misconceptions. While hormone therapy can be an effective way to manage menopause symptoms, it is not the only option. Women can also manage their symptoms through lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, and stress management techniques. Cutting back on the toxins in our environment can also help.
Additionally, there are non-hormonal treatments available, such as antidepressants, that are sometimes used to manage symptoms. But if you go to the doctor around the time of menopause and are only offered anti-depressants, do ask if hormone therapy could be a better option.
Another myth about menopause is that it causes weight gain. While it is true that many women may gain weight during menopause, this is not necessarily caused by menopause itself. Rather, it is often due to lifestyle factors, such as a decrease in physical activity, a less healthy diet, or an increase in stress levels.
Our metabolism can also impact weight gain. We cannot eat the same as we did before, do the same amount of exercise as before and expect our weight to stay the same. See here for help on menopausal weight gain.
Finally, it is important to understand that menopause is not a disease that needs to be cured. It’s a natural process that every woman will go through at some point in her life. While it can cause discomfort and inconvenience, it is not something that needs to be treated as a medical condition.
Instead, it’s important for women to understand what to expect during menopause and take steps to manage symptoms, and maintain overall health and wellbeing. I believe menopause can be a magnificent transformative time in a woman’s life, if we choose to embrace it and reap its benefits, rather than fighting to maintain the status quo we had before.
Menopause is a natural and normal part of a woman’s life cycle. By separating fact from fiction, women can better understand what to expect during menopause and take steps to manage their symptoms and maintain their overall health and wellbeing. This includes seeking support from healthcare professionals, making lifestyle changes, and embracing this important stage of life.
You may also like: Best Books About Menopause and Magnificent Midlife Podcast – Episodes About Menopause
Rachel Lankester is the founder of Magnificent Midlife, author, host of the Magnificent Midlife Podcast, a midlife mentor and editor of the Mutton Club online magazine. After an initially devastating early menopause at 41, she dedicated herself to helping women vibrantly transition through the sometimes messy middle of life, helping them cope better with menopause and ageing in general, and create magnificent next chapters. She’s been featured in/on BBC Woman’s Hour, The Huffington Post, The Sunday Times, Thrive Global, Authority Magazine, The Age Buster, Woman’s Weekly, Prima Magazine, eShe, Tatler HK and Woman’s Own amongst others. She believes we just get better with age. Get her book Magnificent Midlife: Transform Your Middle Years, Menopause and Beyond which was recommended in the New York Times.
Last Updated on May 16, 2023 by Editorial Staff