When we think about menopause, we mostly think about hot flashes (boooo) and not having to buy tampons anymore (yesss). There’s actually way more to it, and it’s worth sorting out fact from fiction. Here, four common misconceptions set straight.
Myth: Menopause Starts Right Around Age 50
According to Healthline, the average age women begin menopause is 51, but that isn’t true for everyone. Menopause can start naturally anywhere between your late 30s and your early 60s. You’re officially in menopause when you haven’t had a period for a full year. If you go 10 or 11 months without your period, and then get it, you’re still not in menopause (and need to start the count over again). Be aware that even if you’re experiencing symptoms, it might not fully start for several years.
Myth: Hot Flashes Are the First Sign of Menopause
Nope, not necessarily. While hot flashes and menopause are pretty much synonymous, there are lots of other symptoms you could experience first. Per Prevention, other symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, irritability and adult acne. (So basically, don’t wait until you start having hot flashes to talk to your doctor—report any other possible symptoms you’re having, too.)
Myth: If You Got Your Period Late, You’ll Start Menopause Late
Unfortunately for those who got their periods late, the opposite is often true. If you started menstruating later than average, you may actually begin menopause earlier. Predicting the age you’ll start menopause is tricky, but according to the Women’s Health Network, there are clues to help you predict when you’ll start: When your mother started menopause is the best indicator of when you’ll start, too. Smoking may mean earlier menopause while drinking alcohol and more pregnancies suggest later menopause.
Myth: Menopause Ruins Your Sex Life
Hell, no. Women can enjoy healthy and active sex lives during and after menopause. A study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that menopause doesn’t play as big a role in sexual problems as once thought. A more important factor in determining how your sex life will play out is whether you had these challenges before menopause. If you did, they’re more likely to continue. Basically, your sex life won’t take an immediate nosedive once you start menopause. (Phew.)