Menopause is a natural process that signals the end of a woman’s fertility cycle. Knowing what to expect, and understanding the truth behind some common menopause myths, can make the transition easier.
Menopause, for most women, is a gradual process, and only fully happens a year after the last menstrual period. Symptoms may occur slowly, peak and then go away gradually as a woman goes through menopause.
Myth: Not all women experience perimenopause or menopause symptoms.
The majority of women experience symptoms during perimenopause, the earliest stage of menopause. Common symptoms include hot flashes, difficulty sleeping, increased vaginal dryness and sensitivity, stress incontinence, mood swings and more. Symptoms may come and go as a women’s body adjusts to the transition and hormone levels.
Myth: There are no options for women to help manage their menopause symptoms.
While hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was a popular option for a long time, recent studies have shown increased risks. HRT is still an option, but women should talk with their health care provider to determine if there is a dose that would be effective for them. Other options to help control symptoms can include a balanced diet to help lower the risk of bone loss, osteoporosis medication, therapy to help with emotional and hormonal changes and exercise to maintain a healthy weight and promote bone health.
Myth: Women cannot get pregnant during menopause.
A woman’s periods do not disappear at once, and the beginning of menopause only signals the beginning of the end of fertility. It’s still possible for a woman to ovulate until menopause is complete, or after her period has stopped for 12 months.
Myth: Menopause is a disease.
Menopause is a transition into the next stage in a woman’s life. In fact, some women have reported feelings of increased wisdom, and in some cultures, menopause has a deep meaning. Some women, however, can experience depression or anxiety. It’s important to have an open discussion with your health care provider about what you’re feeling during this time of your life, so appropriate treatment can be determined. Menopause is not something to worry about, and a healthy transition is certainly possible.
Obstetrician/Gynecologist Shawna Ruple, M.D., sees patients at MidMichigan Obstetrics & Gynecology in Midland. Dr. Ruple specializes in routine and problem gynecology care, gynecologic surgery, prevention of female reproductive cancers, birth control options, caring for women while pregnant and more. To make an appointment, contact her office at (989) 631-6730.