Going through menopause? You’re not alone – a recent estimate predicts that 13 million women are currently experiencing symptoms in the UK alone. Marked by the end of egg production in your body, menopause is linked to a number of physical and emotional changes.
The good news is that you can wave goodbye to the hassle of periods, along with the bloating, cramps and emotional rollercoaster that happens around your time of the month. However, beyond these fundamentals, experiences of menopause can vary hugely – which means many women don’t receive the support they need from their GP*.
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‘We’re finding that women don’t really know where to turn or who to talk to when they’re going through the menopause,’ says A. Vogel‘s menopause expert Eileen Durward. ‘It’s clear to us that many women expect the menopause to be such an awful experience that they accept other quite harrowing health issues as just part of the process, and aren’t getting them investigated.’
Confused? Durward debunks the eight most common myths and reminds us why we shouldn’t fear the menopause:
Myth 1 – You will start the menopause at 50
This just isn’t the case. Every single woman will have an individual menopause, and the average starting age is between 45 and 55. However, there are certain things that can bring on an early menopause, such as smoking, certain chronic health conditions and being very overweight.
Myth 2 – You’re going to put on weight during the menopause
It’s true that hormonal changes can affect your metabolism, but lifestyle changes also occur during our 40s and 50s. We’re not as active as before and the stress of change can lead to overeating. Weight gain can result as a combination of hormones, lifestyle and diet, so tweak your diet to help avoid this. Cutting down on carbohydrates, adding wholegrains and increasing protein will really help during the menopause.
Myth 3 – Your sex drive is going to get up and go
Falling hormones can lower your libido, but again it’s to do with lifestyle. The menopause puts tremendous pressure on your body, which can cause fatigue. You might have a busy job and a family, and some women in the menopause can get low mood, too – all of this combined can lower libido. Tackling the root cause, for example, by getting more sleep, can address this problem.
Myth 4 – The first symptom you are going to get is the hot flush
Not true. Seventy five per cent of women will get flushes, but the other 25 per cent don’t get them at all. A lot of women get symptoms while they are still getting periods, such as fatigue, low mood, joint pain, bloating, breast tenderness and irritability. Often, because they are still getting periods, they don’t associate these symptoms with the menopause.
Myth 5 – If you have your periods earlier, you’re going to have an early menopause
It actually depends on how many eggs you are born with. If you’re born with fewer eggs, you will have an earlier menopause and, if you are born with more eggs, you will tend to have a later menopause.
Myth 6 – You’re only going to get physical symptoms like hot flushes and night sweats
You can get a combination of symptoms which are both physical and emotional. It’s important to remember you are an individual going through the menopause and you’re not the same as everyone else.
Myth 7 – By the time you get through the menopause, life will never be the same again
A lot of women think this is going to happen. For the majority, once you have been through the menopause and not had a period for a couple of years, your symptoms should start to tail off. Look after yourself with a good diet, sensible exercise and plenty of rest to feel just as good, if not better, after the menopause.
Myth 8 – Every woman will get symptoms and it will be awful
The majority of women get through the menopause with minor symptoms. We have noticed that women who eat correctly, exercise and sleep well tend to have an easier time through the menopause. The less stressed you are, the smoother the process will be.
*according to research from A.Vogel.