Busting the myths around menopause

As menopause approaches, it can bring with it the same sense of the unknown felt at puberty. What’s going to happen to my body? Is what I’m experiencing normal? If you’re feeling unsure about what to expect, you’re not alone.

Given half the population journey through this natural biological stage, surprisingly little is known about it, remarks Dr Nicola Gates, clinical neuropsychologist at Brain and Mind Psychology, Sydney and author of The Feel Good Guide to Menopause.

“Society’s always been uncomfortable with women’s reproductive sexual health,” Gates says, citing the furore over TV sanitary pad adverts. Menopause also has the double-edged sword of being associated with ageing.

The what and when

Simply defining menopause is confusing. Technically speaking, it refers to the permanent end of menstruation. Due to the irregularity of a woman’s cycle in the lead-up to this event, you’re considered to have reached menopause retrospectively 12 months after your final period, explains naturopath Ruth Trickey in Women, Hormones and the Menstrual Cycle.

A whole lot more happens before and after that! “Around our mid-40s, a women’s oestrogen levels start to gradually diminish to become that of a man,” Gates explains. “Puberty is the increase in sexual reproductive

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