Myths and truths on menopause
Menopause creates a lot of fear and anxiety for women as they approach this important part of their lives writes DR MARGA BOYANI
This phase is surrounded by more myth and mystery than any other season in a woman’s life. They include:
Menopause is the beginning of the end: This is simply not true! Many women struggle with the burden of suddenly feeling ‘old’ because menopause is linked with aging. Our youth-oriented society has a constant barrage of negative messages about growing older yet menopause is the beginning of a rich and fulfilling part of a woman’s life. Just like the start of her periods during puberty marks the beginning of her fertility, menopause marks the end of a woman’s fertility. Instead of gearing up for pregnancy and childbirth, her reproductive system is gradually winding down after a job well done.
It causes depression: Research has shows that depression in women actually peaks in the 30s. Depression is only a risk factor in postmenopausal women, who have had a previous history of depression or any other psychiatric illness, women with a family history of depression, and women with a history of PMS. Also, women who have a poor self-image and difficulty in handling stress don’t fare well after menopause.
Women have waning brainpower after menopause: Some people believe that a woman loses a significant amount of brain tissue after menopause. This is total mytho-mania. Although menopause can cause mood swings, it does not cause insanity.
What about pregnancy?
Until you are firmly postmenopausal (you have not had your period for at least six months to one year), there is always the risk of pregnancy; that is how some women end up with ‘retirement babies’ when they least expected it. Contraception is, therefore, still important. If you don’t smoke, the oral contraceptive pill can be used right up to your menopause.
Obese women have fewer menopausal symptoms: True because as the ovaries cease producing oestrogen, fatty tissue in the body converts some of the male hormones secreted by the adrenal glands into oestrogen. The fatter your body is, the more this conversion occurs, which means more oestrogen in the body. Women who have more fatty tissue are, therefore, less troubled by hot flashes than thin women because they tend to have higher levels of oestrogen.
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