Checking in on our health is so important. So many of the common conditions which go on to be serious and debilitating, if caught early, are easily managed through diet or lifestyle changes. And being aware of the different risks at every age can help you know what to be on the lookout for.
Thanks to increased reporting in the media, menopause is getting an important spotlight, helping society better understand the impact of this life stage on a woman’s health and wellbeing.
However, there are still many myths and misconceptions which serve to create stigma and fear around menopause. We’re taking a look at some of the common misunderstandings and sharing the reality.
Firstly, what is menopause?
It’s important to keep in mind that menopause is a perfectly natural part of a woman’s life. It takes place when a women’s ovaries no longer release an egg every month and their periods stop for good.
Menopause involves three stages:
Premenopause starts sometime after age 40. The symptoms may come on gradually, with some women not initially noticing that irregular periods, mood swings, sleep troubles, or worsening PMS are the beginnings of menopause.
Perimenopause is the transition stage where a woman has not menstruated in a year, signalling menopause. Symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, and irritability may increase during this time.
- Postmenopause is the stage when a woman may feel as if her life is settling. Symptoms are reduced or have disappeared and energy returns.
Now we’ve looked at the three key stages of menopause, let’s look at some common myths.
“Menopause only affects women over 50”
While menopause has traditionally been viewed as a condition which only affects women over 50, the reality is different.
On average, women experience menopause around the age of 46. But it’s not uncommon for the stages to start in women younger than this. It’s possible to go through menopause from the age of 30 and around 1 in 100 women experience it before the age of 40.
There is no one defined age, and no guarantee of when menopause will start. It’s important to remember that as many women who go through menopause early struggle to get the medical guidance they need as they are assumed to be too young.
“The only treatment for menopause is HRT”
While Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) can be an effective option for women looking to reduce their menopause symptoms, it isn’t for everyone. For example, for those with a history of breast cancer, HRT isn’t recommended.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other options which can provide relief. Many women find that taking natural supplements or making lifestyle changes has a notably positive impact.
Alongside eating a balanced diet, many women find natural supplements containing phytoestrogens (plant-based compounds that mimic oestrogen) can help ease symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, mood issues or hot flushes.
There is also strong evidence that certain exercises and positive lifestyle habits can help. CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) may help with low mood while guided meditation can help ease stress and anxiety. Yoga and cold-water swimming can provide relief for hot flushes and joint pain while pelvic floor exercises can help with bladder control.
“Your sex drive disappears after menopause”
Menopause can cause symptoms which make having sex more difficult, but this doesn’t have to spell the end of intimacy.
Vaginal dryness and low libido are common complaints associated with menopause, but there’s plenty you can do to improve these symptoms.
Pelvic floor exercises can help with painful sex, while CBT can be beneficial if you’re experiencing a low sex drive. Being able to communicate with your partner about how you’re feeling is also incredibly important, as is remembering that it’s also ok not to want sex for periods of time, too.
“You can’t get pregnant in menopause”
It’s understandable to assume that once the menopause starts, the chances of pregnancy stop. But it’s a little more complicated than that. It’s important to remember that if you’re still having periods (however infrequently), you can still get pregnant.
“You can only tell you’re in menopause when your periods stop”
If you’re still having periods but experiencing symptoms, you could be in perimenopause.
Menstrual changes, such as irregularity in cycle or flow, are common during perimenopause. But, if you’re taking hormonal contraception, or if you have erratic periods generally, changing patterns can be difficult to identify.
This is why it’s important to remember that your symptoms can be just as helpful of an indicator of when you’re in menopause as your periods. If you’re struggling with low moods, brain fog, skin changes, hot flushes, night sweats or any of the other recognised symptoms this could be an important indicator.
Understanding your menopause markers
With GP waiting times increasing in many practices, and appointments for non-urgent care more difficult to access, private blood testing is becoming a common alternative for many people looking to take control of their health.
Our menopause profile test is a simple way to understand your hormone levels and menopause status, measuring the markers follicle‑stimulating hormone (FSH), Oestradiol and Testosterone.
"With GP waiting times increasing in many practices, and appointments for non-urgent care more difficult to access, private blood testing is becoming a common alternative for many people looking to take control of their health.”
A simple and convenient private blood test
We partner with Spire Healthcare to offer a professional phlebotomy service. This guarantees that your blood samples are taken and handled correctly and that your results are processed efficiently by clinical professionals. Our confidential blood tests are available at over thirty private clinics around the UK.
At your appointment, the friendly team will talk to you about your test, collect your blood sample and send it off for testing at an accredited partner laboratory. All you need to do is arrive for your appointment. We’ll take care of the test, and the rest.
Clear, accurate results
The time it takes to receive your results will depend on the type of test you have chosen. When they are ready, your results will be sent directly to you, via email, within the time specified. If you would prefer to receive a paper copy of your results through the post, that can be arranged for you.
You can also choose the option of reported or unreported results. Reported results include information and comment from our GP which you may find helpful to discuss with your own consultant, or for your records.