So many women come to me not fully understanding what menopause is or why they’re feeling so out of sorts. Most grew up in a time when menopause simply wasn’t talked about. Their mothers called it “the change” but never explained what was changing. I think that’s why there is so much misinformation and mythology attached to menopause.
It’s very important to me as a hormone replacement physician to help educate my patients and dispel some of the most common menopause myths.
4 Common Menopause Myths
1) Menopause ends when your hot flashes disappear
2) Estrogen is only used for hot flash relief and nothing else.
3) All estrogens are the same
4) Testosterone isn’t necessary for women
1) Just because you no longer experience a hot flash doesn’t mean menopause is over. Menopause is defined by deficiencies in your primary steroid hormones—estradiol (your most important estrogen) and testosterone. Because of this, the physical and emotional changes of menopause can continue until you die. That is unless you return these hormones to normal, beneficial levels using a hormone replacement method that gives the body what it needs for renewed hormonal balance.
2) Estrogen, estradiol in particular, has many important functions besides relieving symptoms like hot flashes. Estrogen receptors exist in cells throughout the body. Besides providing the basis for female reproduction and sexual development, estrogen has a significant effect on bone and bone structure. It supports liver function and provides cardiovascular protection in addition to neuroprotection in the brain. Estrogen also plays a positive role in a woman’s mental health.
3) All estrogens are not the same. The human body makes three different estrogens—estriol, estrone and estradiol. Estradiol is a woman’s most important estrogen and delivers the greatest health benefits. It is the only estrogen that penetrates the blood brain barrier. Synthetic estrogens and horse estrogen (derived from the urines of pregnant mares) have completely different structures and don’t provide the health advantages that bioidentical estradiol does.
4) Research continues to show the importance of physiologic testosterone levels in women. Premenopausal women make 300 milligrams of testosterone a day. With the onset of menopause, testosterone production slows to a trickle. In fact, this hormone is vital to hormonal balance, brain function (especially short-term memory), the normal performance of the muscle system and in bone making. The lack of testosterone creates a metabolic imbalance which causes a rise in insulin resulting in belly fat, elevated lipids and weight gain.
To learn more about common menopause myths and take a self-assessment quiz to see if you’re experiencing menopause or a hormonal imbalance, click here.