Many women approaching menopause have heard these common misconceptions: “Oh, menopause is the same for everyone,” “Just get use to mood swings,” or “Hormone therapy is dangerous.” It’s amazing the amount of myths and misinformation that is out there about this natural evolution of a woman’s body as she ages. We’re shedding some light on three of the top myths:
Myth 1: Hormone replacement is dangerous.
Much of the misleading information surrounding hormone therapy originates from a large, randomized clinical trial called the Women’s Health Initiative, completed back in the nineties, which studied health outcomes for more than 160,000 women over 15 years. Its findings were pretty stark, but this study was flawed. Most of the women who participated were in their 60s or older, leaving the younger population underrepresented, which brought the baseline risk for breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes up, overstating the increases they saw in the study. What we now know is that, while menopause can increase your risk for heart disease, the use of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone within ten years of menopause does not increase those risks. However, we do encourage patients to speak with their doctor about their individual risks and benefits of hormone therapy. For most patients, we are seeing that the benefits of hormone replacement for patients within ten years of menopause are great when it comes to cognitive well-being, bone health, and prevention of urinary tract infections.
Myth 2: There is nothing that can be done about the symptoms of menopause.
If you have menopausal symptoms such as vaginal dryness, night sweats, hot flashes, or concerns with intimacy, we have lifestyle recommendations, medications, and alternative therapies that could help you. If you need help or have questions, we encourage you to make an appointment with your provider as soon as possible. Menopause is another chapter in a woman’s biological path, but it doesn’t have to be a negative one.
Myth 3: Menopause is the same for all women.
Just like any health change, each woman’s experience will be unique. For instance, the time menopause or perimenopause begins can be different for each woman. Perimenopause is the period before a woman goes into menopause. If the average age of menopause is 51 in the US, perimenopause can start in your early 40s. Women will experience a whole host of different symptoms during this time as well. People experience symptoms ranging from hot flashes to insomnia, increase in heart palpitations, erratic menstrual cycles, and vaginal dryness. Each of these can be affected by individual hormone levels. One of the strongest indicators of what menopause and the perimenopause time will be like for a woman is how her mother’s symptoms were, and when her own mother went through menopause. So, if you’re approaching this stage of your life, it’s a great opportunity to connect with your mom about her experiences.
Have questions about menopause? Make an appointment with a Northern Light provider! You can schedule an appointment online through our provider portal.