Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years, but it is often misunderstood and surrounded by misconceptions. In this myths section, we aim to address some of the most common myths about menopause. Whether you are experiencing menopause yourself or simply want to learn more about it, we hope that our answers will help you better understand this important stage of a woman’s life.
HRT delays the menopause
Response – In fact HRT treats the symptoms and does not postpone them. If you still have menopausal symptoms when you stop HRT you would have been having these at this stage without HRT.
I can’t start HRT as I am still having periods
Perimenopausal symptoms usually start around the time periods start to change, but it is not unusual for them to start while periods are still regular. HRT can be safely started at this stage, there is no need to wait for periods to change or tail off.
HRT can only be used for five years
Absolutely not! There is no time scale as to when HRT should or must be stopped. HRT can be continued for as long as the benefits outweigh the very small risks, for some women this may be for decades or even lifelong.
I was not able to take the Pill so I won’t be able to take HRT
Most women who were unable to take the pill for medical reasons WILL be able to take HRT. Both combined contraceptive pill and combined HRT contain oestrogen and progesterone hormones. But HRT contains much lower oestrogen levels than the pill and the hormones are usually bioidentical rather than synthetic. HRT can often be given through the skin to reduce medical risks.
Once I am taking HRT I won’t need to use contraception
HRT is NOT a contraceptive (unless you use the progesterone-releasing intra-uterine system for the progesterone component) and you may well still be able to conceive naturally. Depending on your age and what has happened to your natural period, you will need advice about this.
Menopause is natural and I just need to get through it
Menopause may be natural (for most women, in some it is brought on by surgery or medication) but this absolutely does not mean you have to put up with it. Not only can menopausal symptoms have a huge impact on your quality of life, untreated menopause can also adversely affect your future health. Supplementing your hormones is NOT giving in or giving up.
Herbal treatments for menopause are safer than HRT
The risks and benefits of herbal methods of dealing with menopausal symptoms are largely untested. Natural does not mean risk free!
I can’t take HRT because of my weight, or because I smoke, or because I have high blood pressure
No, no and no. Transdermal oestrogen is safe for heavier women and feeling well on HRT can make it much easier to be motivated to lose weight. The same applies for smoking. And HRT does not increase blood pressure, though we would always advise making sure high blood pressure I controlled prior to starting.
There is a history of breast cancer in my family so I won’t be able to use HRT
This is not true for most women with a family history of breast cancer. Breast cancer is relatively common, one in seven of use will get it in our lifetime. Only a small number of breast cancers are closely linked to family history, the risks from taking HRT for most women are much smaller than the increased risk they carry if they smoke or are obese.
I am too young for HRT, or too old!
There are no age limits, it depends on your hormone balance and individual circumstances.
I cant take HRT as I get migraines
Not true, in fact HRT can help migraines and transdermal (patch or gel HRT can be safely used in women with migraines.
I need a blood test to diagnose menopause
Almost always menopause is a clinical diagnosis based on your age, symptoms and period history. There are exceptions, and for younger women a blood test can sometimes be useful.