What is menopause?
Menopause is the gradual shutting down of the female reproduction system because the ovaries no longer produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone. This effectively puts an end to the menstrual cycle. The symptoms relating to menopause may include hot flushes, mood swings, and unusual weight gain.
Menopause is not an illness, but thanks to some misconceptions about the actual process, it is dreaded by many women. They are disturbed by the changes taking place in the body, and many may need a medical intervention to cope with the changes, which can often lead to anxiety
Some things you need to know about menopause
Thanks to some old wives-tales, and other wrong ideas gathered along the way, here are some truths about menopause you need to know:
Truth: Most women start the menopause between 45 and 55, and in some cases around 35 to 45 years old.
Fiction: Menopause is usually over in a relatively short period of time.
Truth. This is incorrect. Menstruation patterns change over a number of years before they finally stop. When your periods stop, menopause is actually far from over.
Fiction: Every woman has bad hot flushes and night sweats.
Truth: Night sweats and hot flushes are common symptoms of menopause, which affect almost every woman, although not every woman experiences them the same way. For some they are very severe, while others have a much easier time of it.
Fiction: Many believe that menopause symptoms are just physical, and that it is mostly all about the night sweats and the hot flushes.
Truth: Emotional changes such as mood swings, anxiety and depression, are common during menopause.
Fiction: You no longer need contraception when you start menopause.
Truth: Even if your periods have more or less stopped, you still need contraception. You might ovulate and have a fertile window in which you could fall pregnant. Medical opinion is that it may be unsafe not to use contraception, unless it has been at least a year since your last period. Note that if you are using HRT – it is NOT a contraceptive.
Fiction: You stop producing estrogen after menopause.
Truth: The ovaries still produce a small amount of estrogen after menopause, as do the adrenal glands.
Fiction: You won’t go through menopause until are over 50 years of age.
The truth about your sex life
This is not the end of your sex life. Both women and men can enjoy a healthy and active sex life well into their 60’s and 70’s. But sexual desire may be affected by menopause, especially if you have concerns about your body image, or an underlying medical condition. Couples with a good, loving relationship, and many satisfactory sexual encounters behind them, can work together to overcome hurdles which may arise in their sex life during menopause.
It is up to both partners to make sure that menopause is not all doom and gloom, filled with a long list of complaints. Symptoms may be challenging at times, but with a positive mindset and patience, you will successfully overcome most problematic issues.
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