Menopause Myths and Misconceptions
What Is Menopause?
Menopause is a natural biological change which results in the cessation of menstrual cycles and the end of a woman’s ability to have children. As a whole, menopause occurs over several years and is usually described in three stages:
- Perimenopause occurs as the ovaries gradually produce less of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. It usually begins after the age of 40 and can continue for 4 to 10 years before the ovaries stop releasing eggs. During this stage, women may start to experience typical symptoms of menopause like hot flashes. Despite infrequent or irregular periods, however, it is still possible to get pregnant.
- Menopause is the point when a woman no longer experiences menstruation and the ovaries stop producing most of their estrogen and progesterone. Considering the potentially irregular nature of periods during the later years of perimenopause, menopause is diagnosed when 12 consecutive months have passed without a menstrual period.
- Postmenopause is defined as the years after menopause has completed. During this period, certain symptoms tied to menopause may dissipate. The reduced levels of sex hormones have been linked with an increased risk of certain conditions including heart disease, osteoporosis and urinary incontinence.
Despite how menopause is often framed in the media, it is not a point in a woman’s life to be feared. Many common myths regarding menopause and life after menopause have been disproven.
Review Date:August 22, 2014
Last Updated:August 22, 2014