Busting menopause myths
For many women, the menopause is equally a cause of celebration (no more periods!) and a time of physical turmoil as the body adjusts to new hormonal levels. Symptoms will vary from mild discomfort or manageable (yet annoying) mood swings to debilitating hot flushes, sleep disturbances and depression.
Menopause is only diagnosed in retrospect 12 months after the last period occurred – until then, a woman is said to be in perimenopause as her body goes through this process. Signs of perimenopause are irregular periods, hot flashes, sleep disturbances and mood swings, all of which can be attributed to changing levels of estrogen.
What symptoms can I expect with menopause?
- Hot flashes: a sudden feeling of heat that spreads from the centre of the body and flushes the face and neck red
- Night sweats: similar to hot flashes, women may find themselves waking in the night due to excess inner heat
- Muscle and joint pains: unexplained bodily pain, similar to that experienced after a hard workout
- Vaginal issues: Lower estrogen levels may make the vaginal walls thinner and dryer, causing pain during intercourse and/ or discharge
- Urinary issues: Women may need to pee more frequently than usual
- Psychological changes: Menopausal women may experience mood swings, forgetfulness and indecisiveness
Myth 1: There’s no reason to see a doctor
There are in fact many reasons to see a doctor during the menopause. Some women suffer greatly from depression and anxiety during this time, due in part to the hormonal changes but also by the fact that they are moving into a more mature stage in their life. For some women, this causes a drop in self esteem, which can lead to feeling down in the dumps. There is no shame in seeking help for these symptoms.
Myth 2: Hot flashes are just life now
They don’t have to be. Aside from managing these symptoms by dressing in layers, having cold drinks handy and moving to cooler spaces, you can also see a doctor about the possibility of menopausal hormone therapy. This therapy replaces the hormones previously created by the uterus, easing the occurrence of hot flashes and other uncomfortable symptoms. It can also reduce the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis after menopause.