Menopause. How does that word make you feel?
For many women, it strikes fear into their hearts. The prospect of hot sweats and unwanted hair growth along with losing your identity as a woman, a dwindling sex drive and generally disappearing into old age is a rather gloomy one.
But the truth is that much of what we hear, and fear, about menopause is a myth. The crazy thing is that we love to talk about so many things in our lives, but it’s incredibly rare for us to feel at ease talking openly about the menopause.
Even our doctors are usually more concerned with dealing with the physical symptoms than discussing anything else. Which is why so many of us start to believe the hype rather than the reality.
The menopause most definitely has nothing to do with getting old or losing any of your special spark.
It has everything to do with inner growth, deep reflection, and entering into a whole new phase of your life.
A little knowledge goes a long way, so here are seven myths about the menopause, along with the real truth behind them.
Myth 1. Life is over. No it isn’t! Think you’ll never again feel sexy, confident and strong? You’re wrong. It’s a great opportunity to evaluate, or re-evaluate, what really and honestly matters to you and only you.
Your attitude here will make an immense difference to your experience – your mind has the power to either ease you though this transition without too much of a fuss, or if you let it, cause you to find it all a challenging, negative experience.
Myth 2. It happens at 50. For most women, the menopause happens at around the age of 50, but this isn’t necessarily the case with everyone. In fact, I know several women who simply stopped getting their periods in their early 40s and that was that. Most symptoms happening during the peri-menopausal stage which is the transition stage that can last for many years before your periods actually stop. It isn’t a reflection of your femininity or sexuality if you go through it earlier or later.
Myth 3. Symptoms are purely physical. The emotional and psychological symptoms can often be more of a challenge. Do you feel that you are always ‘out of sorts’ and no matter what you try you just can’t seem to get back on track?
You might feel like your brain is full of cotton wool and you can’t think straight. Or as if you’ve received a double dose of PMT with all of the irritability, mood swings, fuzzy thinking and forgetfulness but without the relief at the end. Perhaps you’re just not feeling yourself but you can’t quite put your finger on it. Thankfully you will be able to get a grip on this, given the right tools.
Of course, physical symptoms do also occur, such as fatigue, hair loss, cravings, heavy periods, irregular periods, disturbed sleep and weight gain and they bring their own challenges with them.
These things can also be managed with the correct diet, level of activity and positive mind tools.
Myth 4. You are alone on this journey. This is simply not the case. Women all over the world experience the menopause and come out the other side smiling, so there is a wealth of experience and understanding to be shared if you only ask. In fact, in some countries women are held in higher regard at this time and don’t even experience the same symptoms as women in Western countries do. Food for thought there…
Unfortunately, the menopause seems to be the last remaining taboo when it comes to women’s issues; our mothers didn’t talk about it and neither do we. But there’s no need to go it alone, so please lean on your friends or other people you can trust when you need it the most.
Myth 5. Hello excess fat and goodbye waist. This one is down to you – it really is possible to keep your youthful figure. During menopause your ovaries produce fewer hormones, so your hormonal levels fluctuate, causing many of the symptoms you experience. Your body seeks to protect itself from this perceived threat by storing more fat.
But by taking control and changing a few habits, you can beat the bulge and keep your body the same as it always was. Go for a diet which is higher in healthy fats, vegetables (especially the green leafy kind), nuts, seeds, and low-sugar fruits. Exercise plays a big part too – try mixing weight-bearing exercises with activities like yoga and meditation. Walking and dancing are great feel-good activities to.
Myth 6. You’ll lose your sex appeal and sex drive. Actually, these shouldn’t change during the menopause, as they’re based on much more than purely the way that you look.
Sex appeal is more about the energy that we release into the world. It’s about how we express our sense of self-worth and self-confidence, our kindness and compassion, the way we get all giddy when we feel excited about something new.
We only have to take a look at celebrities like Halle Berry, Jennifer Aniston, Naomi Campbell or Julia Roberts for inspiration. These women are all in their 40s and so are probably entering the peri-menopause or menopause right now. Are you trying to tell me that they aren’t sexy exactly as they are?
The challenge when it comes to sex appeal and libido lies inside your head, in your self-image and self-confidence. With the right attitude you will triumph.
Myth 7. HRT is your only option. There is so much support out there that can help you to transition through the menopause both physically and mentally, so there’s no need to think that HRT will be your only option. In fact, HRT often has side effects, could increase your risks of certain cancers and is surely an artificial way of avoiding the menopause.
Make small changes to your lifestyle and diet, increase the right exercise that you are getting, learn stress-relief and relaxation techniques, practise positive visualisation, and use herbal remedies if you’d like to.
There’s nothing extreme about any of these things, and they will all help you to find equilibrium.
The menopause can be a confusing, difficult and challenging time for many women, but it doesn’t need to be.