We have come a long way since the word ‘menopause’ was first coined in 1872, yet many women today are still unaware of what happens to their bodies after menopause.
Urban Health seeks the expertise of Dr Ho Choon Moy, a consultant gynaecologist at the Pantai Medical Centre Cheras and immediate past president of Malaysian Menopause Society, to tell the difference between menopause myths and truths:
1) Myth: Menopause is not a disease, so I should just bear with the symptoms till they go away
Truth: While it is true that menopause is not a disease, it affects people differently. Even if your symptoms are mild and you breeze through menopause, you should still visit the doctor regularly to check on silent post-menopausal diseases such as osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer.
2) Myth: The only treatment for menopause is Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).
Truth: You need to see your doctor for a personalized menopause treatment plan because every woman is different. Treatments today are also highly varied, and there are non-hormonal options for consideration too. Most importantly, menopause needs to be managed holistically, which encompasses body, mind and soul.
3) Myth: Menopause spells the end of a woman’s sex life.
Truth: Some women experience vaginal dryness and loss of libido at menopause, but they can be easily treated with the right medications and exercise. Of course, you cannot expect it to be the same as when you were 20 or 30, but many menopausal women say it is in fact better because you no longer need to worry about pregnancy or performance!
4) Myth: I only need to start thinking about menopause at the age of 50.
Truth: Your age of menopause is determined by your age of menache (first period). If you had your menache early, you would most probably have menopause early too. Also, many women begin experiencing peri-menopause, a stage before menopause with the same symptoms of menopause. However, they are not menopausal yet, and such can still get pregnant unexpectedly. As such, it helps for every woman to know about menopause as early as possible so that she can prepare for this important milestone in life.
5) Myth: I don’t need menopause treatment because I want to age gracefully.
Truth: Who says menopausal women who seek treatment want to be young again? Why would they want to go through the insecure teens, turbulent 20’s and challenging 30’s again when their lives are stable, with established careers and grown children?
All women want in their menopausal years is to stay healthy, beautiful and vibrant- for the next phrase of her life. Menopause treatment is not a quest for immortality, but an acceptance that our bodies have changed and that we are ready to face the changes bravely.
6) Myth: Menopause means weight gain.
Truth: Menopause does not make you fat; over-eating does! The weight gain is related to the lowered metabolism due to ageing. That is why it is important to exercise and watch your diet once you reach menopausal age, not just to maintain a figure but also to keep your heart and joints healthy.
7) Myth: Menopause symbolizes a time to slow down in life.
Truth: This probably would have been true thirty years ago when women who lived to menopausal age were considered old and wise. Today, many menopausal women are starting brand new journeys- continuing their studies, travelling around the world, writing their biographies, doing the things they never had a chance to do when their children were young.
Staying healthy will enable you to live a fulfilling life even after menopause. Stay close to friends, family and hobbies and take this opportunity to live your Second Spring with zest!