Debunking menopause myths
The more we talk about menopause as a society, the more we can aim to support women through this major milestone. Knowing the facts is useful, but with so many conflicting stories in the news around treatments and lifestyle choices, it can be hard to know what to believe. Guidelines from the National Institute of Health Care Excellence (NICE) are a good place to start in clearing up certain misconceptions.
We bust some common menopause myths, to help you understand the facts so you can navigate the changes.
Menopause makes you lose interest in sex
Everybody is different. Many women find that their libido drops; others find they want sex more regularly.
There are lots of reasons why a woman might experience less of an interest in sex, including vaginal dryness, caused by a drop in oestrogen and testosterone, that can make sex stressful or uncomfortable; a change in hormones can also have a negative effect on libido.
This is very common, and while you may find it tricky to discuss how you’re feeling with your partner, a menopause specialist will help you to explore ways to be more open about what’s happening, and reassure you that this is often just a temporary phase, as your body and mind readjust to the change in hormones.
Hot flushes are the most common sign of menopause
Night sweats and hot flushes may be the first signs of menopause for many women, but some never get them at all. These physical symptoms might be more obvious than the less overt mental changes such as low-mood, anxiety and forgetfulness, but both can be equally significant in their negative impact on quality of life.
Changes in hormones can change the way you think, and affect everything from sleep to self-esteem to confidence. If you are experiencing a significant change in mood, or symptoms that are unfamiliar or unmanageable, it’s important to talk this through with someone who understands. A menopause specialist can help you to navigate the best treatment options for you, with the aim of improving both your physical and mental wellbeing.
The menopause lasts four years
There is no exact time. Some women experience menopausal symptoms for much longer than this, months and sometimes years before their periods stop altogether. Typically, symptoms will last for three or four years after your last period, but again, this differs for every woman.
A menopause expert will be able to help you work out whether what you’re experiencing is ‘normal’ for you: if you feel that certain symptoms are debilitating and have been going on for too long, then it’s important to be able to explore treatment options or lifestyle changes that may significantly help your situation.
Irregular periods mean lighter bleeds
For some, maybe. But many women find that their periods become heavier or more painful before stopping altogether. And others (though not many) find their periods stop abruptly, with no wind-down. Irregular periods during menopause often make it difficult for a woman to be able to predict how long the bleeding will go on and how heavy it will be, which can cause anxiety.
If you’re experiencing heavy bleeding that’s impairing your daily life or making you feel more tired than usual, then a menopause specialist can help. There are many ways to improve your situation, from the insertion of a hormonal coil that can stop heavy bleeding, to supplements that can help with any iron deficiency that can cause tiredness due to heavy bleeding.
To find out more about our gynaecologists and menopause specialists, please call 020 7244 4200 or make an appointment online.