21 Jan 2016
The Top 5 Myths of Menopause Debunked
The changes that women experience during menopause are confusing and Dr. Google doesn’t always point you in the right direction. Let’s take a look at the top 5 myths I commonly hear and set the record straight.
Myth #1: Menopause begins at 50
Truth: The average age of menopause is 52…but there’s a huge range of what’s normal.
Anything before that is perimenopause; anything after is considered post-menopause. It’s possible to reach menopause in your 30’s or 60’s; both of which are normal even though outside the average.
Myth #2: Weight gain is inevitable in menopause
Truth: Weight gain is very common in menopause because hormonal shifts make weight loss more complex. It’s no longer as simple as “calories in, calories out.”
As you transition into perimenopause and menopause, your ovaries make fewer sex hormones, and your body may respond by trying to protect itself. Its preferred method of protection is to store fat, especially around the waist, hips, and thighs. Fat stored in these areas also produces more estrogen, which in turn, leads to more weight gain. Add stress to the mix with higher cortisol production and it’s a recipe for weight gain around the waist.
Despite these changes, you can still achieve a healthy weight. If your first reaction to weight gain is to cut back calories, think again. That throws your body into stress mode and cortisol kicks in. Excellent nutrition and lowered carbohydrates help women balance their hormones and gradually return to their natural weight.
Myth #3: There’s no difference between natural menopause and “surgical” menopause
If you’ve had a hysterectomy, you probably know this is UNTRUE. If you have your ovaries removed, you’re thrown into menopause overnight instead of gradually. This is very hard on your body.
Even if your ovaries are left intact, there’s likely disruption of the blood supply to them which will keep them from fully functioning. Changes may be less severe when you keep your ovaries, but they are unpredictable. Many women need estrogen, progesterone and testosterone replacement to feel their best after a hysterectomy.
And don’t let your doctor tell you that you don’t need progesterone. You have progesterone receptors all over your body (not just in your uterus). They need love too.
Myth #4: The first sign of menopause is hot flashes
There’s huge variation in the symptoms women experience in perimenopause. Some women sail through with nary a hot flash. But others begin having symptoms like weight gain, irritability, fatigue, anxiety and insomnia in their mid-30’s. And symptoms can last for more than 10 years!
There are approximately 34 symptoms of perimenopause….any of which could be your first sign that your hormones are shifting.
This why it’s critical to pay attention to your body. If you’re starting to feel like Mother Nature has doing a hit-and-run on your mojo, consider the possibility that hormone shifts are beginning.
Myth #5: After menopause, your body doesn’t produce hormones
Truth: No matter how far past menopause you are, you still have hormones! Most of the production is from the adrenal glands. In fact, in menopause 50% of the estrogen and progesterone are produced by the adrenals.
Some hormones like estrogen and progesterone do decrease once your reproductive cycle ends because they’re needed less. Your body still produces them, just in smaller amounts. Even so, they can still be out of balance.
For some women, the symptoms of hormonal imbalance disappear or decrease post-menopause. For others, symptoms continue and include vaginal dryness, hot flashes, urinary incontinence, urinary tract infections and weight gain.
With such a wide variety of symptoms and the fact that many of them look like something else, it’s no wonder that many women don’t connect these to a perimenopausal hormonal imbalance. If you want to understand more about what’s going on you’re your body, let’s talk. You can schedule a complimentary 30-minute call with me to talk about ways we might work together.
Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.
Dr. Anna offers a complimentary 30-minute Get Acquainted Call to anyone who’d like to learn more about working with her. You can schedule that at your convenience by clicking here.