The menopause signals the end of the reproductive life of a woman. And we all know to expect it. But until you actually go through the menopause, knowing exactly what to expect is difficult. And what makes matters more complicated in preparing for the menopause is the fact that there are a lot of myths surrounding it.
It Happens in Your 50s
We typically think of the menopause as taking place in your 50s. And in the UK, the average age for a woman’s periods to stop is 51. But the menopause can start long before your periods actually completely stop.
The menopause typically starts between 45 and 55. It’s definitely not unusual for a woman in her 40s to begin going through the menopause.
HRT is Dangerous
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is effective in helping to alleviate some of the more troublesome symptoms of the menopause. But it gets a pretty bad press much of the time.
This is because studies confirmed that long term HRT use could increase the risks of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and, in some women, stroke.
However, more recently, medical professionals have concluded that short term use of HRT (no more than 5 years) is beneficial to women and the benefits outweigh the risks.
It can help to reduce hot flushes, relieve vaginal dryness and help with libido.
It’s a Short Event
When we start our periods, it happens fast. It just turns up one day. But the menopause is actually a long process. We don’t simply “have the menopause,” one day.
There is the early stage of menopause (perimenopause) when we begin to experience certain symptoms. And this can go on for months or even years in some cases.
Typically, your periods don’t suddenly stop either. It’s more often the case that they become irregular over a period of years beforehand. And even the hot flushes and symptoms like that can last for months or years too.
So it is a long and drawn out process and this is why it is recommended that you seek the support of a medical professional and consider treatment like HRT if you are struggling to cope.
Are you going through the menopause?
If you think you might be going through the menopause, you can take a test at home to measure your levels of key female hormones and well as key markers for bone strength which can become compromised during and post the menopause. This increases the risk of osteoporosis.