Sssshhh - nobody around here really talks about that here. The ‘M’ word is strictly just for our middle-aged fellow sisters, and word has it that the whole discussion is dogged with a raging stigma that needs to be shut down. But quick question: if us ladies are out there, literally killing it in every area of life, then why oh why has the topic of ‘menopause’ been buried deep into the aisles of society’s library of hushed conversations? I shall not have it!
Since we’re touching base on the topic, it’s essential that we understand what defines menopause. To put it simply, it is a completely natural biological phenomenon in a woman's life and marks the end of her menstrual cycles. That’s literally like 99 of our problems solved, even if it’s later in life, right? While that’s the gist of it, there’s a whole lot to it that isn’t common knowledge. Today, let’s bust some menopause myths. Keep reading.
MYTH #1: YOU HIT MENOPAUSE WHEN YOU TURN 40
For a lot of women, it’s not an abrupt or sudden process. You don’t just hit middle age and expect Aunt Flo to not show up every month. You have to have gone through a year of no periods to know for sure that you have hit menopause. Before they completely stop, you may see months of irregular periods. This transitional phase is what we’d call perimenopause.
MYTH #2: YOU WON’T NEED BIRTH CONTROL
While this is largely true for a lot of post-menopausal women, those transitioning into it will still require birth control. Of course, as a woman ages, it gets trickier to get pregnant, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. While getting pregnant is a choice, it is common knowledge that middle age pregnancies come with several health risks both to the baby and the mommy.
MYTH #3: MENOPAUSE IS A MIDDLE-AGED AFFAIR
Yes, we all know that at some point, our mothers or other older women we know may be hitting menopause but hitting it prematurely has become increasingly common for several reasons. In most cases, it is medically induced, such as when you undergo chemotherapy, or when your ovaries have been surgically removed. This can put a stop to your body’s oestrogen production, resulting in early menopause. Sometimes, excessive dieting and over exercising can also temporarily cause your periods to stop but that is not considered menopause.
MYTH #4: YOU WILL HAVE HOT FLASHES
… and memory loss, weight gain, night sweats and aches and pains! Women often dread menopause for fear of experiencing these symptoms. And if I’m being completely honest, I don’t like the sound of them either. But this isn't a rite of passage for everyone. Most women go through these in the perimenopause stage, and symptoms such as weight gain or aches can also be a result of ageing. In fact, if you consistently exercise, eat healthy and take your multivitamins through your 20s and 30s, chances are you’ll sail through menopause without any symptoms.
MYTH #5: LOSING WEIGHT IS IMPOSSIBLE
Losing weight can get quite tricky during these times due to any number of reasons, hormones being one of them. Your metabolism may also slow down big time, but healthy living is a lifestyle, and it's always best to have realistic goals and consistency in your diet. Losing weight has a lot to do with your hormones, and it’s best to have a diet that will nourish your hormonal system, rather than opting for extreme food plans and intense workouts. Don’t forget, as we age the quantity of food we need to consume also decreases, and many women don’t realize they need to eat smaller, nutrition-dense meals in their 40s and 50s.
MYTH #6: YOU JUST HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT
Well, you can’t avoid it, can you? But that doesn’t mean that you put your hands up and expect to live through misery. First things first, you need an attitude makeover. At some point, you will be saying goodbye to your period, which is something most of us wish we could do every month. This is also the perfect opportunity to incorporate a health boost into your lifestyle. It could be in the form of regular exercise, a good diet or even just taking the right supplements for you. It’s also important to realise that if your menopause is putting a mental strain on you, whether it’s pre or post, there is no harm in asking for medical attention. And if you are suffering from symptoms of vaginal dryness and itching, consult your gynaecologist. There are plenty of options out there for you.