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.