Menopause Myths, Mysteries and Misconceptions
Can we talk about this unnecessary and harmful cloak of silence and end the stigma?
Few human conditions so seriously, surely, and yet unexpectedly affect the health of half the global population as menopause, marked by everything from hot flashes and night sweats to serious internal plumbing problems, poor sleep and notable ongoing health risks. Likewise, few conditions of such seriousness are less talked about or more misunderstood.
For example: Did you know symptoms of menopause can kick in up to 10 years before a woman’s final menstrual period? That’s the conclusion of a new study of Spanish-speaking women around the world.
Or: Did you know hot flashes are a potential sign of heart disease to come, as a study last year suggested?
My odds of going through menopause are pretty slim. So like most men, I wasn’t aware of these facts. But a shockingly large percentage of women aren’t, either. I asked my postmenopausal wife what she knew before she started having symptoms, which by the way began about a decade before her formal menopause.
“I knew nothing,” she said. “It’s a very murky thing, and nobody talks about it.” That murkiness, the “lack of lines and definitions,” as she put it, make it hard to know when menopause has begun, whether it's responsible for the troubling mood swings or the hellish night sweats that leave the sheets soaked, and whether various treatments and remedies have helped. One thing she knows for sure now: Her internal thermostat is shot. One minute she’ll snuggle with a blanket in front of a fire on a cold winter day, the next minute she’s flung the blanket off and the doors wide open.
Rather shockingly, to my mind, no gynecologist or other doctor ever warned my wife what was to come. Turns out a lot of doctors are as clueless as the rest of us about all this.
Suffering in silence
“The biggest public misconception is that menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats are trivial and short-lived,” says…