7 Myths About Menopause — And The Truth Behind Them

Night sweats, hot flash­es, and vagi­nal dry­ness — if these words send a shiv­er up your spine, you may be one of the many women who dread the thought of going through menopause. 

Anx­i­ety about menopause is pret­ty com­mon, and your feel­ings are total­ly valid. But some of your fears might actu­al­ly be root­ed in myths. These mis­con­cep­tions about menopause can come from movies, the inter­net — even oth­er women you know who have gone through it.

By unlearn­ing these 7 myths about menopause, you can face this tran­si­tion with a lit­tle more knowl­edge — and a lot more confidence. 

Myth 1: Menopause hap­pens all at once. 

Menopause isn’t some­thing that hap­pens overnight — though you may face some hot flash­es dur­ing the night. Most women between the ages of 45 and 55 will begin tran­si­tion­ing to menopause, but it’s impor­tant to know your peri­od doesn’t imme­di­ate­ly stop. The menopausal tran­si­tion can actu­al­ly take sev­er­al years.

You are offi­cial­ly in menopause when you haven’t had your peri­od for a full 12 months, and all of the symp­toms you might expe­ri­ence before­hand actu­al­ly fall into this tran­si­tion­al peri­od called per­i­menopause.

Com­mon Symp­toms of Perimenopause

  • Change in your peri­ods (may be short­er, longer, heav­ier, or lighter)
  • Mood­i­ness, anx­i­ety, or depression
  • Hot flash­es
  • Dif­fi­cul­ty sleeping
  • Vagi­nal dryness
  • Change in libido
  • Feel­ing that your body is dif­fer­ent”

Myth 2: When you start going through menopause, your peri­od auto­mat­i­cal­ly goes away.

Dur­ing the menopausal tran­si­tion, your peri­ods will change. For some women, they may get their peri­od more often, while oth­ers may get it less often. The dura­tion and flow of your peri­od can also vary — last­ing more or less time, or becom­ing heav­ier or lighter.

If you’re in your 40s or 50s, a change in your peri­ods can be a sign that your body is shift­ing into per­i­menopause — but there are many rea­sons your peri­ods might change that aren’t nec­es­sar­i­ly relat­ed to menopause. Talk to your Duly OBG­YN provider about any changes you’re expe­ri­enc­ing to help you best under­stand what’s hap­pen­ing in your body.

Myth 3: Weight gain dur­ing menopause is inevitable.

There’s a com­mon mis­con­cep­tion that you will auto­mat­i­cal­ly gain weight as you approach menopause. While weight gain does tend to hap­pen dur­ing this time, aging and lifestyle are typ­i­cal­ly the culprits. 

Menopause can affect where your fat is stored, so you may notice some changes in your body or some fluc­tu­a­tions in your weight. Like any oth­er phase of your life, keep­ing a healthy and active lifestyle is impor­tant.

Myth 3: Menopause will ruin your sex life. 

As you go through menopause, your body inevitably changes — and some of these changes may affect your sex life. You may expe­ri­ence vagi­nal dry­ness due to low lev­els of the hor­mone estro­gen, caus­ing itch­ing, burn­ing, pain, or dis­com­fort (in gen­er­al or dur­ing sex). 

Menopause may also change or low­er your sex dri­ve, affect­ing how often you desire phys­i­cal inti­ma­cy. These changes aren’t fun, but they don’t mean your phys­i­cal rela­tion­ships have to suf­fer. Talk to your Duly provider or OBG­YN if you have ques­tions about sex dur­ing or after menopause.

Are you expe­ri­enc­ing painful sex after menopause? Learn what’s nor­mal and what’s not.

Myth 4: You can’t get preg­nant dur­ing perimenopause.

It’s not menopause until you’ve missed a con­sec­u­tive 12 months of peri­ods. So a few missed peri­ods doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Even if you go 11 months with­out a peri­od — and then get your peri­od in month 12, you’re tech­ni­cal­ly not in menopause yet. 

Birth con­trol is still rec­om­mend­ed for a woman who isn’t try­ing to get pregnant.

Myth 5: Hor­mone replace­ment ther­a­py (HRT) is dangerous. 

Dur­ing menopause, a woman’s estro­gen lev­el becomes low. To address chang­ing hor­mon­al lev­els — and the symp­toms that come with it — your doc­tor may rec­om­mend hor­mone replace­ment ther­a­py (HRT). HRT can help with symp­toms like hot flash­es by rais­ing the amount of estro­gen and prog­es­terone in your body.

The ben­e­fits of HRT typ­i­cal­ly out­weigh the risks for women under 60 years old, with no health issues, and with­in 10 years of menopause. For women expe­ri­enc­ing hot flash­es and night sweats, hor­mone replace­ment ther­a­py can offer about a 90% reduc­tion in those symp­toms.

Myth 6: All women will expe­ri­ence menopausal symptoms.

Dur­ing menopause, you may expect the noto­ri­ous hot flash­es, mood­i­ness, trou­ble sleep­ing, mem­o­ry prob­lems, and even pain dur­ing sex. 

But did you know that some women will bare­ly expe­ri­ence menopausal symp­toms at all? That’s right. It varies. Some may have mild symp­toms, while oth­ers may expe­ri­ence severe symp­toms — and some women may expe­ri­ence none at all.

Myth 7: Menopause is scary — and there’s noth­ing you can do to make it better.

Menopause and the symp­toms asso­ci­at­ed with menopause might cause you to feel frus­trat­ed, over­whelmed, or even sad. Like any big change in your life, it comes with its ups and downs, but you don’t have to be afraid of it. When symp­toms are impact­ing your dai­ly life, treat­ments are avail­able, and your Duly care team is here to sup­port you.

You and your Duly provider can work togeth­er to decide which treat­ments may be best for your symp­toms. That way, you can embark on your body’s nat­ur­al pro­gres­sion into the phase of menopause with con­fi­dence — all while feel­ing your best.

Have ques­tions or con­cerns about menopause? Duly Health and Care is here for you. Sched­ule an appoint­ment with a Duly provider today.

Health Topics:

  • Masue Li, MD, Naperville OB/GYNE

    To provide compassionate care.