Can You Decode These Myths about Perimenopause, Menopause and Postmenopause?
Women's Health
August 26, 2019
Can You Decode These Myths about Perimenopause, Menopause and Postmenopause?
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Rashmi Bolinjkar, M.D., OB/GYN

Menopause, perimenopause and postmenopause are stages in a woman’s life when her monthly period changes and eventually stops, signaling the end of her reproductive years. Even though there are three stages, there is a lot of grey area between the three — including age of start, duration, symptoms, treatment and age of completion — which can make it downright confusing and even a little frustrating.

We spoke to Rashmi Bolinjkar, M.D., an OB/GYN on the medical staff at Texas Health Allen and at Texas Health Women’s Care in Allen, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice, to help debunk common assumptions surrounding the three stages.

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  • How did you do? The menopause journey is just that — a journey. The transition from perimenopause through menopause to postmenopause can take one to three years, and it’s important to remember that every woman is unique and will experience menopause differently. Some women experience few, if any symptoms, and for those who do, the symptoms can vary widely.

    “Women fear menopause,” Bolinjkar says. “One of the biggest misconceptions women have in their minds is that their life is going to change suddenly. For the rest of her life, she is going to experience sleep deprivation, mood changes and lack of interest in intimate relations, and feel hot and sweaty all the time. But many women don’t experience any of the menopausal symptoms, and if they do, they are so light that it is barely noticeable.”

    If you do experience symptoms that affect your quality of life, there are treatment options (hormonal and non-hormonal) available to lessen the severity, and lifestyle modifications you can try to improve symptoms.

    Although menopause is a natural occurrence, as opposed to an illness, Bolinjkar notes that it’s important to consult with your doctor when you begin to experience signs so your physician can evaluate you and help you make a healthy transition through menopause.

    Do you need a primary care physician or OB/GYN to help manage your health and answer any of your concerns? Find a physician on the medical staff of a Texas Health hospital in your area with our “Find a Physician” tool. For more information and other resources, visit TexasHealth.org or call 1-877-THR-WELL (1-877-847-9355).

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  1. Question 1 of 10
    1. Question

    If a woman has not menstruated in a year, she is menopausal.

    Correct

    True – Menopause means the permanent end of menstruation.

    “Menopause officially kicks in when the ovaries produce so little estrogen that eggs are no longer released,” Bolinjkar says. “This causes your period to stop. If a woman does not have a period for one year then she is menopausal by definition.”

    Incorrect

    True – Menopause means the permanent end of menstruation.

    “Menopause officially kicks in when the ovaries produce so little estrogen that eggs are no longer released,” Bolinjkar says. “This causes your period to stop. If a woman does not have a period for one year then she is menopausal by definition.”

  2. Question 2 of 10
    2. Question

    If menopause occurs in a woman younger than 45 years of age, it is considered premature.

    Correct

    False – Menopause that occurs before the age of 40 is considered premature. Menopause usually occurs sometime between age 45 and 55, but the average age is 51, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). However, because of genetics, illness or medical procedures, some women go through menopause before the age of 40.

    Incorrect

    False – Menopause that occurs before the age of 40 is considered premature. Menopause usually occurs sometime between age 45 and 55, but the average age is 51, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). However, because of genetics, illness or medical procedures, some women go through menopause before the age of 40.

  3. Question 3 of 10
    3. Question

    Smoking can cause premature menopause.

    Correct

    True – If you smoke, you may go through menopause about one and a half years earlier than women who do not smoke, according to the National Institutes of Health. Although commonly implicated, autoimmune disorders or the age at which a woman’s mother entered menopause does not cause premature menopause.

    Incorrect

    True – If you smoke, you may go through menopause about one and a half years earlier than women who do not smoke, according to the National Institutes of Health. Although commonly implicated, autoimmune disorders or the age at which a woman’s mother entered menopause does not cause premature menopause.

  4. Question 4 of 10
    4. Question

    Common symptoms of menopause include irregular periods, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sleep disturbances and mood swings.

    Correct

    False – These are all common symptoms of perimenopause. While menopause shares a few of these symptoms, you will not experience a period (regular or irregular) during menopause.

    Incorrect

    False – These are all common symptoms of perimenopause. While menopause shares a few of these symptoms, you will not experience a period (regular or irregular) during menopause.

  5. Question 5 of 10
    5. Question

    During perimenopause, some doctors may prescribe birth control.

    Correct

    True – During perimenopause, some doctors suggest birth control pills to help with very heavy, frequent, or unpredictable menstrual periods. These pills might also help with symptoms like hot flashes, as well as preventing pregnancy, because there is still a slight chance you could become pregnant.

    Incorrect

    True – During perimenopause, some doctors suggest birth control pills to help with very heavy, frequent, or unpredictable menstrual periods. These pills might also help with symptoms like hot flashes, as well as preventing pregnancy, because there is still a slight chance you could become pregnant.

  6. Question 6 of 10
    6. Question

    The reduction in hormones during menopause can increase the risk of certain medical conditions, such as heart disease.

    Correct

    True – “Although the ovaries stop producing estrogen during menopause, they continue to produce testosterone, which is converted into estrogen in body fat,” Bolinjkar says. “As there is a decline in the hormones produced, it increases the risk of certain medical conditions like heart disease, osteoporosis, incontinence, depression, vaginal dryness and weight gain.”

    Incorrect

    True – “Although the ovaries stop producing estrogen during menopause, they continue to produce testosterone, which is converted into estrogen in body fat,” Bolinjkar says. “As there is a decline in the hormones produced, it increases the risk of certain medical conditions like heart disease, osteoporosis, incontinence, depression, vaginal dryness and weight gain.”

  7. Question 7 of 10
    7. Question

    Many menopausal women can find symptom relief from hormone replacement therapy.

    Correct

    True – “Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is used usually after menopause if symptoms seem to be more dramatic than normal or if they negatively impact the patient’s life, and can give wonderful results. But it has to be regulated and monitored appropriately,” says Bolinjkar. “Women with mild symptoms or with certain risk factors, such as being previously diagnosed with breast cancer or thromboembolism, can opt-out of hormone replacement therapy.”

    Incorrect

    True – “Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is used usually after menopause if symptoms seem to be more dramatic than normal or if they negatively impact the patient’s life, and can give wonderful results. But it has to be regulated and monitored appropriately,” says Bolinjkar. “Women with mild symptoms or with certain risk factors, such as being previously diagnosed with breast cancer or thromboembolism, can opt-out of hormone replacement therapy.”

  8. Question 8 of 10
    8. Question

    Menopausal hot flashes last, on average, seven years.

    Correct

    True – A new study shows that most women experience hot flashes for an average of seven years, although they may last as many as 10 years or more. Some good news is that HRT can improve symptoms about 75 percent of the time.

    Incorrect

    True – A new study shows that most women experience hot flashes for an average of seven years, although they may last as many as 10 years or more. Some good news is that HRT can improve symptoms about 75 percent of the time.

  9. Question 9 of 10
    9. Question

    The reduction in hormones during menopause will slow your metabolism, causing you to gain weight.

    Correct

    False – While you may feel more likely to gain weight during menopause, hormonal changes alone don’t necessarily cause weight gain.

    “Many women experience weight gain beyond age 40 and 50,” Bolinjkar says “This can be due to the natural process of aging, genetics and lifestyle, and not solely from menopause. Healthy eating and exercise are essential to maintaining body weight.”

    Incorrect

    False – While you may feel more likely to gain weight during menopause, hormonal changes alone don’t necessarily cause weight gain.

    “Many women experience weight gain beyond age 40 and 50,” Bolinjkar says “This can be due to the natural process of aging, genetics and lifestyle, and not solely from menopause. Healthy eating and exercise are essential to maintaining body weight.”

  10. Question 10 of 10
    10. Question

    Postmenopause is the stage when you’re completely symptom-free for 12 months or longer.

    Correct

    False – Postmenopause refers to the years after menopause, or after not having had a period for more than 12 months. During this time, menopausal symptoms can ease for many women, but due to continued decreases in estrogen levels, symptoms can still linger — sometimes for years.

    Incorrect

    False – Postmenopause refers to the years after menopause, or after not having had a period for more than 12 months. During this time, menopausal symptoms can ease for many women, but due to continued decreases in estrogen levels, symptoms can still linger — sometimes for years.

Menopause, perimenopause and postmenopause can be confusing. We spoke to an OB/GYN to help debunk common assumptions surrounding the three stages.

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