- Menopause is defined as the point in time when menstrual cycles permanently cease due to the natural depletion of ovarian oocytes from aging. Menopause can also be induced medically, for example as a result of chemotherapy or the surgical removal of the ovaries due to other medical conditions. It usually happens in women after the age of 40.
Menopause happens at three different stages-
- Perimenopause: When the ovaries gradually begin producing less estrogen, a woman is considered perimenopausal. Typical symptoms of perimenopause include worsening PMS, irregular periods, mood swings, and trouble sleeping.
- Menopause: If a woman has not menstruated in a year, she is in menopause. Typical symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, sleep difficulties, and irritability. This phase can last anywhere from ten months to four years.
- Postmenopause: At this point in a woman’s life, the menopausal symptoms begin to gradually decrease. The chances of conceiving and becoming pregnant now are nearly non-existent. Many women experience increased energy at this point in their lives.
For women across the world, menopause is an inevitable fact of life and a normal part of the aging process. But menopause myths still exist, partly due to menopause still being a taboo subject. Let’s debunk the 5 most common myths surrounding menopause!
Myth 1– Early 40s is too young to start menopause.
Fact– This is not true. Women may begin to experience symptoms of perimenopause in their early 40s. This is when hormones will begin to fluctuate and cause a variety of symptoms. The misunderstanding and misuse of the term ‘menopause’ combined with the fact that menopause happens when a woman is in her 50s (on average, although it can happen between the ages of 45 and 55), has lead many women to think that they are too young to be going through the perimenopause in their early 40s.
Myth 2– Menopause happens suddenly at the age of 50.
Fact– This is not true. Menopause is due to a lack of ovarian responsiveness, which is a gradual process that lasts upto 4 years. Women begin to experience perimenopause in their 40s. Next comes menopause, which is when a woman hasn’t had a natural period for 12 months, and/or blood tests indicate a lack of ovarian responsiveness.
Myth 3– Menopause lasts only a few years
Fact– It depends from person to person. Some women may experience symptoms up to 10 years. On average, women experience symptoms for 4 years. Symptoms are temporary, but menopause is permanent.
Myth 4– Menopause leads to excessive weight gain
Fact– This is not true. It is common for some women to gain around 4-7lbs in weight, especially in underweight women. However, menopause does not cause excessive weight gain. Women may find that they have more mass around their stomach which is caused by hormonal changes that result in a redistribution of fat within the body.
Myth 5– Contraception is not needed during menopause to prevent pregnancy
Fact– Even though one cannot get pregnant during menopause, they may still be at the risk of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, gonorrhea, etc.
Menopause can be a very confusing time in a woman’s life, made worse by the lack of education women receive around menopause and what to expect. It is important that women educate themselves on menopause and what to expect. Women should try and talk to their mothers, grandmother, friends, or a qualified healthcare provider to learn more about this natural part of life. It’s also important to understand that even though menopause is a natural process, it can be hard for a lot of women to go through it, and if you may have any concerns about your menopause, do not hesitate to reach out to a gynecologist or any other medical professional to seek medical advice.
UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA MEDICINE- https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/womens-health/2016/may/the-change-five-myths-about-what-happens-during-menopause
BETTER HEALTH AUSTRALIA- https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/myths-and-facts-menopause
Shivaanshi Mishra is a class 10th student currently living in Muscat, Oman. She works as a writer for her school magazine, and other organizations such as iFeminist. Besides writing, she enjoys reading books, painting, and music
Proofread by Dr. Tinu Phillip
Dr Tinu Phillip is an OBGYN and is currently practicing at Royal Oman Police hospital in Muscat, Oman.
For over ten years I have worked as a Public Health Professional with people of all ages within non-profit organizations, social service organizations, educational institutions, hospitals and clinics to train, educate, promote, manage, design and implement public health programs to meet the needs of the communities I served. I have worked for organizations such as, Planned Parenthood, The Southern Nevada Health District, Kaiser Permanente, the City of Berkeley’s Public Health Department, and most recently Upstream USA. In these positions I was responsible for managing health education projects and people. In addition to being a people manager, I conducted and evaluated needs assessments,assisted in the development of curriculum, content, and training presentations for diverse audiences on a variety of public health topics. One of my main responsibilities was to conduct in-person, and live web-based public health education training presentations.I have a Master’s Degree in Public Health with a specialization in Social and Behavioral Sciences. I also hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Communications, and Minor in Sociology. I love helping to empower people of all ages to take charge of their health, and lead healthier, happier, more informed lives. In my spare time, I love cooking, reading, traveling, and watching & listening to all things related to true crime.
Tanya C Jaikaran, MPH