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5 Surprising Facts About the Menopause

It’s easy to become disillusioned with the menopause, but at the very least, no one can say it’s uninteresting!

To many, the menopause itself is enough of a mystery, but there are some little-known facts that might be surprising to know. So, on the off-chance that at the next pub quiz an obscure menopause fact pops up (or if you simply want to be the most well-informed menopause expert among your friends), here are 5 surprising facts about the menopause.

  1. Whales go through the menopause

Specifically, killer and short-finned pilot whales experience the menopause! While we don’t know whether they experience the same symptoms (what would hot flushes look like underwater?), scientists do have a reasonable explanation for why some whales experience the menopause. According to new research, when mother and daughter whales breed at the same time, the mother’s offspring is 1.7x more likely to die due to limited resources. Older whales are better off being grandmother caretakers then reproducing themselves, and since the purpose of animal species is to breed the fittest, most-likely-to-survive offspring, it’s likely that the menopause was the best solution to the problem!

  1. Early treatment of the menopause included opium and cannabis

According to The Huffington Post, before the 1800s, doctors used to treat the menopause with herbal treatments, including cannabis and opium. The times have clearly changed since then! And in case it wasn’t evident: currently, opium and cannabis are not considered medical solutions for the menopause!

  1. The later you started your period, the earlier the menopause will come

While it’s impossible to exactly predict when the menopause will start, one study (i.e. one of the largest studies done about the menopause so far) found that the later you start your period (compared to average), the earlier your menopause will start. Worth bearing that in mind!

  1. There’s an ongoing scientific debate over ‘andropause’ – the male menopause

Can men go through the menopause? Well, not quite – but there is some belief in the medical community that some men go through ‘andropause’ – an androgen and/or testosterone deficiency – towards their 40s and 50s, where they experience many of the same symptoms as the menopause. However, the term itself is quite misleading. Unlike the menopause, which is characterised by a significant drop in estrogen and occurs to all women, the drop in sex hormones in males tends to occur at a steady and slow pace. Because of this, many scientists and medics believe that these so-called menopausal-like symptoms in men (irritability, weight gain, difficulty sleeping, low energy, etc) are caused more by ageing rather than hormonal changes.

  1. STI rates for over-50s are going up

While it’s common to experience vaginal dryness and loss of libido before and during the menopause, many women experience an increased interest in sex when they are post-menopausal. With higher rates of divorce, there are more single women and men over 50 than ever before (and more dating apps that can connect them). Because of this, there has been a surge in the number of women and men who reported having ‘three or more sexual partners in the past five years’. Since there’s no risk of pregnancy, it might be tempting not to use a condom, but nobody is immune to sexual transmitted infections! Since 2012, there has been a 25% increase in diagnosis of STIs for women over 65. Now, targeted campaigns have begun tackling the problem, reminding us of the importance of safe sex!