(BPT) - Menopause is a natural transition every woman goes through. Yet, it remains misunderstood and often misidentified.
A groundbreaking study of more than 32,000 women may revolutionize this. The study, conducted by Phenology — a pioneering women’s health brand that provides non-hormonal menopause solutions — offers insights that debunk some of the most prevalent myths surrounding menopause. Knowing the facts can empower women to advocate for effective care from healthcare professionals.
Myth 1: Menopause usually happens after age 50.
According to Phenology’s study, the average age of menopause onset was 53, but women as young as 35 were observed in the early stage of perimenopause.
Ultimately, there’s no standard timeframe for the menopausal transition, which can last between 7 and 14 years. In the Phenology study, 50-year-old women were in the 25-75th percentile range across four different menopause stages: early perimenopause, late perimenopause, early postmenopause and late postmenopause. This means that at the age of 50, some women are just starting their journey in early perimenopause while others have already entered late postmenopause.
Myth 2: Postmenopause means it’s over.
Postmenopause is the last stage of menopause; but counterintuitively, it’s marked by an increase in symptom number and frequency. Phenology found that women experience an average of 11 symptoms during postmenopause, compared to 8 during perimenopause. Late postmenopause had the highest incidence of hot flashes (73%), night sweats (68%), brain fog (77%), and insomnia (70%). Sexual issues also intensified in this phase, with 62% of women reporting low libido and 52% noting vaginal dryness, which can lead to painful intercourse.
The label “post” in this case is somewhat deceiving, and doesn’t capture women’s actual experience.
Myth 3: Hot flashes are the main symptom worth treating.
Menopause is more than just hot flashes, with women experiencing an average of 9 symptoms simultaneously over the course of the transition. They range from physical — hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia and brain fog — to emotional — anxiety, mood swings, irritability and depression — to sexual, like low libido and vaginal dryness. These are frustrating at best, life-disrupting at worst, and plenty deserving of treatment.
Early perimenopause especially is marked by emotional symptoms that could be mistaken for mental health. Phenology’s study found that 72% of women in this stage reported mood swings, 70% felt anxiety, 67% experienced irritability and 60% indicated a depressed mood. Understanding that these emotional changes might be caused by hormonal shifts can help women get proper care.
Myth 4: Menopause is the same for everyone.
While all women will go through the menopausal transition, Phenology’s study found that the experience is remarkably different for each individual. Across 32,000 women, Phenology identified over 15,000 completely unique symptom combinations. Chances are, a woman and her closest friends will each experience different symptoms — making it near impossible to get accurate advice from peers.
With only 31% of OB-GYNs receiving formal menopause training, getting proper care from a doctor isn’t always easy, either. Private companies like Phenology are stepping in to fill this gap, leveraging technology to deliver the personalized, non-hormonal relief that 82% of women prefer. They've partnered with Vitamin Shoppe to make non-prescription menopause solutions more accessible. Women can now get personalized supplement advice at Vitamin Shoppe, paving the way for a transformed menopause experience.