Top 8 Myths About Menopause Debunked

Last updated 12.09.2023 | by Sabrina Johnson | 11 Minutes Read

This article has been reviewed and fact checked by Dr. Karen Pike, a senior physician administrator and board-certified emergency room doctor actively working in northern California. Read more at our medical disclaimer page.


Has menopause been portrayed or presented to you as a mysterious and life-changing event that would make everything go topsy-turvy? Well, it is the way you perceive. I had once heard of a 46-year-old woman who dreaded menopause to the extent that it gave her a panic attack. She thanked her stars every month her periods came.

On further probing, it was understood that she had seen her mother going through menopause. Those sleepless nights, hot flashes, wrinkled skin, everything left her troubled and tormented. A psychologist once told me that this is the saga of most women. Their mother’s account of menopause immensely influences them.

I met someone at the doctor’s office the other day who said that she had a positive approach since her mother had once told her that her life’s best phase began after she went through menopause.

My point in bringing these facts to light is to highlight that your menopause won’t depend on how your mother’s menopausal experience has been. True, genetics does influence the menopausal time to a certain extent, but not the symptoms. Did you know? Approximately 6000 women experience menopause each day, which sums up to around 2 million yearly. That’s quite a number. And, no two women’s symptoms will be the same.

My mother had once said that during her time, menopause was a hush-hush affair, unlike the present times. Due to the lack of transparency and awareness, menopause was perceived as a scary affair.

Cut to the present times, things have become much sorted. You have a lot of practical information and vivid details at hand. So, believing in the myths that keep circulating each day is unquestionable.

Are you also troubled by the different myths regarding menopause that keep doing the rounds? To help you better, I highlighted some common myths and even tried my best to demystify them with logical explanations. Here we go.

8 of the Common Myths About Menopause You Need to Know

8 of the Common Myths About Menopause You Need to Know

Continuing from where I left off above- the myths might sound scary and disturbing. However, when you have logical explanations and facts at hand, you won’t get carried away by them.

1. Menopause Begins When One Grows Old

“Menopause is for the old.” that’s what I would hear when I was young. Later, when I grew up, I realized how wrong people were in their perception.

It’s a preconceived notion that when a woman ages, she begins experiencing menopause. So, let’s get into details and address this with logic.

The mean menopausal age is 45-55; in the United States, it is 51 on average. However, that isn’t the ending line. Women could experience menopause early menopause, before 45, or get it prematurely when they are below 40.

Statistically, around 1% of the female population in the United States go through premature menopause, while 5% undergo early menopause. An analysis in 2014 by compiling 46 studies in 24 countries deduced the mean age for menopause to be 48.8 years.

It has even been studied that menopausal ages vary per age, ethnic group, and region. However, many other factors also play a significant role in deciding upon a woman’s menopausal age. These include genetic factors, overall health, socioeconomic conditions, etc., influencing menopause age.

So, the thought that menopause comes late in life isn’t a correct assumption since the average age is your mid-40s. You could get it earlier too.

2. Menopause Begins When Your Menstrual Cycle Ends

This statement isn’t entirely untrue but must be explained in detail so that you understand the science well. No periods for twelve consecutive months means that you are in the menopause stage. However, menopause doesn’t begin or happen just like that.

You will transition into it over a while. Before menopause, you will go through perimenopause, which is even called the time around menopause. Your estrogen levels start decreasing, and you begin encountering many symptoms associated with menopause, like vaginal dryness, sleep problems, hot flashes, etc.

The more you near menopause, the more intense your symptoms become. This is because the estrogen levels reduce drastically by then. Your periods will also become more irregular when you are closer to menopause.

So, menopause starts when your menstrual cycle ends, but that will happen over a long period and not suddenly.

3. Menopause Makes You Forgetful

Women’s symptoms in menopause are due to declining estrogen levels. The estrogens are not just reproductive hormones but control other body functions, including the brain.

No wonder when there is a decline in estrogen levels, there are chances of having a problem concentrating, paying attention, and remembering things. Around 60% of women experience decreased cognitive functioning during menopause.

But that doesn’t mean menopause is bound to make you forgetful. When you exercise regularly and practice mindfulness and meditation, you can overcome forgetfulness to a greater extent. So, the fact that menopause always means forgetfulness might not hold good for those who have found ways to manage the same.

If I were to talk about myself in the initial years, with so much happening on the physical front, maintaining calm and concentrating on things was a challenge. However, when I altered my lifestyle and took to relaxation techniques, I saw a marked improvement in my cognitive functioning.

4. Menopause Means An End of Your Sex Life

Many women feel menopause means bidding goodbye to their sex life. When estrogen levels are high, it increases the lubrication of the vagina and heightens sex drive. But, when estrogen levels decline, it results in vaginal dryness and reduced sex drive. But that doesn’t mean your sex life will go for a toss completely. The spark you felt in your 20s or 30s might not be present. Yet, you could reignite the missing spark with your and your partner’s efforts.

For vaginal dryness, lubricants and moisturizers will work well. Give more importance to foreplay. When you are aroused fully, it helps to increase vaginal lubrication naturally. Pelvic floor exercises help to strengthen your vaginal muscles and improve sex. If you still find discomfort in sex, you could speak to the doctor for alternatives like medications or HRT (Hormone replacement therapy).

5. Menopause is Equivalent to Weight Gain

Well, the fact that menopause results in weight gain isn’t untrue. It’s all because of the fluctuating hormone levels. Most of the extra weight will accumulate in the abdominal area rather than the thighs and hips. But how many extra pounds you put in depends on how healthy you stay.

As you reach 40 and are nearing 50, if you don’t change your diet and exercise to the minimum, then weight gain is inevitable. So, instead of saying menopause means weight gain, it is better to state that menopause can trigger weight gain if you are not conscious about your lifestyle.

That happened to me as well. In the initial years, when I was transitioning into menopause, the stress factor, and lack of sleep took a toll on my eating habits. I would resort to binge eating quite often. It took me a lot of effort to get back to a healthy lifestyle like before. However, when I succeeded, I managed to control my weight to a great extent.

6. Menopause Means Misery

Well, all of it depends on one’s thought process. The mention of menopause sends chills down our spine, right? Is it all because of the troubling symptoms that we have to face? Or could it be because our menstrual cycles and reproductive years end? Well, if you think it the other way, it could relieve you from the stress.

In fact, with menopause, all of the premenstrual syndrome that troubled you each month ends. It also means bidding goodbye to periods and the associated products. You’ll also be freed from the worries of an unplanned pregnancy. So, whether menopause means misery or freedom will depend on how you think it to be. Positive affirmations helped me big time. I always said to myself, “I will be fine, all will be well.”

7. Menopause is Incomplete Without Hot Flashes and Night Sweats

The low estrogen levels are accountable for the hot flashes and night sweats one faces in menopause. Around 75-80% of women experience hot flashes in menopause. If I were to explain it better, only two of ten women are spared from hot flashes. 

Those who have experienced it will know how an episode of hot flashes feels. It is a sudden warmth on your face, spreading up to your neck, and chest. It’s an unpleasant experience and often lasts for one or two minutes or sometimes as much as five minutes. Hot flashes at night culminate into night sweats.

But, the fact that menopause is all about hot flashes isn’t true. It varies from one woman to the other. In some, it will barely be noticeable. In contrast, a certain section of the female population may be troubled with regular hot flashes. When you maintain a healthy lifestyle with a proper diet and adequate exercise, you are likely to have lesser incidence and frequency of hot flashes.

8. You’ll Experience Menopause At A Time When Your Mom Had it

Genetics plays a role in the menopausal age, but that isn’t the ultimate factor. It is often said that when your mom or other close relatives have their menopause early, you will also follow suit. I was going through the findings of a study the other day. It mentioned that women whose mom, grandmom, aunt, or sister experienced early menopause before 46 were at the risk of early menopause as well by around 37.5%.

The same goes for late menopause. But other factors also come into play, like your lifestyle, overall health, etc.

Smokers experience menopause two years earlier than those who do not smoke. Menopause is also said to come early in underweight women and late in obese women. Moreover, women with very high estrogen levels all life could go through late menopause.

So, from the facts we get above, it can be said that genetics is one of the factors influencing the menopausal age. However, that isn’t the ultimate factor. 

FAQs

Q. Does late period mean late menopause?

Well, there isn’t any proof to validate this fact. Instead, it is often said that when a woman begins her menstrual cycle late, she could have her menopause early.

Q. Is there a difference between surgical and natural menopause?

Many believe that surgical menopause and natural menopause are the same. This isn’t true. Surgical menopause mainly occurs early or prematurely due to an emergency. If the uterus, fallopian tube, ovaries, and cervix have been removed, it could drastically affect your hormone levels. But, in the case of natural menopause, the hormonal levels drop gradually.

Q. Is it mandatory to go for hormone replacement therapy in menopause?

No, menopause doesn’t mean that hormone replacement therapy is a mandate. HRT is one of the several measures to opt for to lessen and manage specific menopausal symptoms like night sweats, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, etc.

Q. Do men have something similar to menopause?

Men experience a fall in their testosterone levels when they age. The term often used to depict their condition is ‘manopause .’They could experience symptoms that are not as intense as women have in their menopause.

Conclusion

So here we have menopause debunked and demystified. It is not as scary as one thinks. It’s a natural process. When you stay healthy, keep yourself rejuvenated, and maintain a proper diet, you’ll be able to manage most of the symptoms of menopause well. Bid farewell to bad habits and welcome pleasant habits. Your life will be a lot easier. When I welcomed healthy living, trust me, things got better.

References:

  1. https://academic.oup.com/ije/article/43/5/1542/695928
  2. https://www.draliabadi.com/menopause/menopausal-memory-loss/#:~:text=Around%2060%25%20of%20women%20in,concentration%20loss%20can%20be%20alarming.
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hot-flashes/symptoms-causes/syc-20352790
  4. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15223-hot-flashes#:~:text=But%2C%20for%20many%20people%2C%20hot,that%20disrupt%20normal%20daily%20life.
  5. http://edition.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/07/17/mother.menopause/index.html#:~:text=Genetic%20factors%20play%20a%20role,play%20a%20role%20as%20well.

Author

  • Sabrina Johnson

    Meet Sabrina Johnson, a compassionate author and a seasoned expert in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a driving force behind Simply Menopause, where her extensive medical knowledge and empathetic nature come together to empower women in their menopausal journey. Sabrina offers culturally sensitive guidance and support through her approachable writing, making her a trusted friend on the path to menopause wellness.