Signs of menopause or just middle age?

Are all those midlife aches and pains really signs of menopause?

menopause in the balance

Some women tend to think of all their midlife discomforts as being caused by menopause.

But is this really fair on poor old menopause? Maybe it's just age ...not hormonal change ...

Check out the scientific evidence below...



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How many common discomforts of middle aged women are really signs of menopause and hormonal change, and how many are just the aging process and so-called "menopause myths"?

When we look at the high quality scientific evidence, we find that menopause is not as guilty as some would have us believe, because:

only hot flashes, vaginal dryness and some insomnia are definitely related to the menopause.

Read more about this high quality scientific evidence.

Let's put menopause on trial and see what the experts (1,2) really say about all those other so-called, signs of menopause:

© Natural-Menopause-Journey.com

MENOPAUSE ON TRIAL

ACCUSED OF CAUSING:

Mood disturbance – depression, anxiety, and/or irritability

EVIDENCE:

"The majority of studies from a large literature report no associations between menopause stage and mood symptoms, development of a mental disorder, or general mental health." (1,Oregon Review)

VERDICT:

Not guilty


ACCUSED OF CAUSING:

Forgetfulness, difficulty in thinking and other cognitive problems

EVIDENCE:

"There is insufficient information to conclude that there is any causal relationship between the menopausal transition and difficulty thinking, forgetfulness, or other cognitive disturbances. Existing studies are inadequate for separating aging effects from the effects of menopause."(2,NIH Panel)

VERDICT:

Not guilty


ACCUSED OF CAUSING:

General aches and pains, problems such as joint aches, pains and stiffness, tiredness, backache.

EVIDENCE:

"The majority of studies showed no association between the prevalence of somatic symptoms, including back pain, tiredness, and stiff or painful joints, and menopausal status." (2, NIH Panel)

VERDICT:

Not guilty


ACCUSED OF CAUSING:

Sex problems – changes in libido, arousal, and other aspects of sexuality

EVIDENCE:

"These latter 3 aspects are strongly associated with age-related factors, such as changes in personal relationships, stressors, and socioeconomic conditions. Their association with menopausal hormone changes has not been established definitively." (2, NIH Panel)

VERDICT:

Not guilty. But vaginal dryness may cause painful intercourse & be a contributory factor.

Read more about vaginal dryness and its treatment


ACCUSED OF CAUSING:

Urinary incontinence

EVIDENCE:

"Current results are inadequate to demonstrate a causal relationship." (2, NIH Panel)

VERDICT:

Not guilty


ACCUSED OF CAUSING:

Reduced quality of life

EVIDENCE:

"Results of available cohort and cross-sectional studies are conflicting." (1, Oregon Review)

VERDICT:

INNOCENT until proven guilty!


So if all those complaints aren't signs of menopause what is the explanation for them?

Nobody knows for certain, but a lot of midlife symptoms are caused by the aging process in general, life stresses and strains and especially factors in each individual woman's life history.

The trouble is that menopause gets the blame for everything because it has become so medicalised in Western culture today. So much so, that menopause is almost regarded as a medical condition or "medical menopause syndrome" rather than a natural process!


Menopause as the cause of all midlife symptoms has got rather out of hand

Yes, of course middle aged women suffer from

midlife discomforts such as aches and pains and headaches and stiff joints and anxiety and feeling up and feeling down and lots of other things too.

But then so do middle aged men!

And even if these problems do occur more frequently in women, the evidence is very shaky that they are signs of menopause and are caused by the end of ovulation and menstruation.

So our trial of menopause based drawing on the evidence from expert reviews of thousands of studies shows that:

Only hot flushes, vaginal dryness and maybe some insomnia are consistently linked with the permanent end of menstruation and hormonal changes.

So let's give menopause a break!


Bibliography

1. The Oregon Review: Nelson HD et al. Management of Menopause-Related Symptoms. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 120. (Prepared by the Oregon Evidence-based Practice Center). Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. March 2005.

2. NIH State-of-the-Science Panel. National Institutes of Health State-of-the-Science Conference Statement: Management of Menopause-Related Symptoms. Ann Intern Med, 2005; 142: 1003- 13.



Pubished February 2010. Updated 27/3/2011

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