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Wellbeing, My Body

Menopause Myths

The menopause can be a challenging topic to talk about for some people. This can mean that there’s a lack of understanding and accurate knowledge about what the menopause is and how it affects women and people with uteruses. Explore some of the most common myths below and why they’re not accurate.

Myth: Menopause only affects women in their 50s

Although the average age for reaching the menopause is between 44 and 56, there are many reasons why someone may experience it earlier than this:

  • Some people naturally experience menopause earlier than others, beginning with perimenopause symptoms as early as their 30s or 40s.  
  • Some people experience a surgical menopause if they have had their ovaries removed. Without the hormones the ovaries produce, they experience a sudden menopause. 
  • A chemical menopause is used to treat some conditions such as endometriosis. This medication is used to deliberately cause an artificial menopause that is in most cases temporary and reversible.

Myth: It’s just hot flushes!

Hot flushes are the most visible and common symptom of the perimenopause but is by no means the only one. The mental and emotional impacts of the menopause are for many people just as real as the physical ones.  

Hot flushes themselves can often be downplayed. They can occur at any time, night and day, and aside from the obvious discomfort, can also be accompanied by a change in mood and lack of concentration. Put this together with the fact that some people experience hot flushes as frequently as every hour lasting around four minutes, and suddenly they don’t seem so trivial.  

Myth: It’s the end of your sex life

Many people assume that entering the perimenopause or menopause means your sex life is over. 

It is true that the change in hormones during the perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause can cause tiredness, a lower libido (desire to have sex), the clitoris to lose sensation, and the vagina to become dryer and less easy to arouse leading to painful penetrative sex. 

From this you might assume that sex is off the cards but, for many people, the menopause can also lead to an increase in libido because they:  

  • No longer have to worry about becoming pregnant (you can still get pregnant during the perimenopause, so you need to continue to use contraception during this time) 
  • Become more confident and care less about what they look like or what other people think  
  • Prioritise themselves during this stage of their life and put more emphasis on their pleasure

So if you want to have sex, there are many ways of managing the changes the menopause brings so you can continue to have a healthy and happy sex life:  

  • Talk to your partner(s) about difficulties you’re experiencing  
  • Use lube – Your best friend for helping with vaginal dryness 
  • Explore other types of sex – Sex isn’t just penetrative sex, you can explore arousal and intimacy in other ways and by incorporating sex toys 
  • Oestrogen creams – This can be prescribed by your GP to help with vaginal dryness which can help with sex as well as daily life 
  • Manage stress – Often libido is linked to stress levels and by incorporating exercise or reducing stress in your life, you may find your libido increases 

You do you!

You should never feel that you have to have sex. You never owe anyone sex and that includes your partner. You should do whatever feels good for you! 

Myth: It’s not possible to get pregnant at this time in your life

You can still get pregnant until you reach the menopause or the age of 55, whichever comes first. You need to consider contraception for two years after your periods stop. If you are in the perimenopause and don’t want to get pregnant, it’s important to use contraception even if your periods are irregular and only come every few months.  

Using hormonal contraception in the perimenopause phase can make it difficult to know if/when you have reached the menopause as they can cause a withdrawal bleed that looks like a period or cause your periods to stop.  

If you’re not sure, you can take a menopause test at your doctors that will measure the levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) in your blood. This is not 100% reliable and won’t be accurate if you’re using the combined pill.  

Myth: Menopause is something you go through alone

Menopause is still a taboo topic for many people despite half the population experiencing it. The stigma that has surrounded it throughout history, including being the butt of jokes or judging those who are menopausal to be hormonal, emotional and erratic, mean people can find it uncomfortable to talk about what they’re going through.  

However, menopause should never be something to be embarrassed about. By talking about it and its impact on your life, you can support others and get support for yourself at work and at home.  

Myth: Your symptoms aren’t bad enough for a doctor’s appointment

Many people going through menopause will think they just have to put up with symptoms and feel that they are making a fuss by seeing a doctor or asking for support.  This isn’t true, there’s lots of support out there and lots of ways you can minimise these symptoms.  

If any of the symptoms you’re experiencing are having an impact on your daily life, work, ability to socialise or how you feel within yourself, always speak to a doctor. Talking to others at the same stage as you can also help provide support and advice, whether that’s in a menopause support group or friends and family.  

Myth: HRT is bad for you

HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) is used to replace the hormones that have fallen during the menopause. 

It has proven to be the most effective treatment of menopause symptoms including hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, vaginal dryness and reduced sex drive and is very safe. It can also support with bone health.  

Combined HRT (HRT that contains oestrogen and progesterone) can be associated with a small increased risk of breast cancer. This risk is very low and for most people suffering with menopause symptoms the benefits far outweigh the risk. 

More about HRT 

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