Debunking menopause myths

Debunking menopause myths

There are many misconceptions about menopause, despite being a natural stage in a woman’s life,Dr. Lisbeth Chang, MD, an OB/GYN with Dignity Health Medical Group — Northridge, debunks common menopause myths below.
For most women, menopause is marked by the end of regular monthly menstruation. When this starts to happen, there are three stages of menopause:

Perimenopause occurs years before menopause and is marked by hormonal changes that impact regular menstrual cycles and may cause symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings and vaginal dryness.
Menopause begins when a woman has stopped for menstruating for 12 consecutive months.

Post-menopause occurs after menopause has been reached, symptoms begin to diminish and marks the period of life after a woman’s period ends.
MYTH: The first sign of menopause is hot flashes
For most women, the first sign of perimenopause is irregular or changes in periods and mood shifts. Hot flashes can happen during perimenopause, but they’re most often reported right around menopause when your period has completely stopped for 12 months and may continue for the first few years of post-menopause.

MYTH: Symptoms are only physical
While there are physical symptoms, menopause can also cause mood changes and sleep disturbances, which can affect your emotional health. Hormonal changes during menopause can cause mood swings, irritability and anxiety.

MYTH: Menopause begins at age 50
According to the CDC, the average age menopause occurs is 45 to 55 years old, but can vary from 40 to 60 years old. You can start menopause in your late 30s to your early 60s, but you are not officially in menopause until you haven’t had a period for a full 12 months.

MYTH: Symptoms last only a few years
The menopausal transition usually lasts about seven years, but can be as long as 14 years. The length of time women experience symptoms vary greatly.

MYTH: The older you are when you get your period, the older you’ll be when you start menopause
Predicting the age at which you will start menopause can be challenging, but there are clues that can help give you insight about when you might start the transition. Factors such as when your mother started menopause, how many pregnancies you have had, medical conditions, and if you drink or smoke can all have an impact on when you begin perimenopause.

MYTH: You can’t get pregnant
It is unlikely, but you can still get pregnant during a premenopausal period. During the perimenopause stage, blood levels of hormones can both recede and also surge. This leads to irregular periods and unpredictable ovulation cycles.

Key Takeaways

There are three phases of menopause and the time from pre-menopause to post menopause can be upwards of 14 years.
Menopause affects everyone differently.
It’s important to identify your specific symptoms to understand how your body is progressing through menopause.
If you are experiencing discomfort, you should consult your doctor to find an individualized approach to address your symptoms.

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