We’ve all heard the stories about someone, usually the friend of a friend, who thought she was going through the menopause but turned out to be pregnant. It’s just as common for the other scenario to be true – many women think they might be pregnant only to discover that they are actually menopausal.
Why do women confuse pregnancy and menopause?
It’s not as silly as it sounds. The common symptoms of pregnancy are:
- Missing periods
- Nausea (morning sickness)
- Gaining weight
- Tender and/or enlarged breasts
- Emotional volatility
Common menopausal symptoms are:
- Missing periods
- Nausea or not wanting to eat
- Weight gain, particularly around the midriff
- Breast tenderness
- Irritability and rapidly changing moods
So it’s almost impossible to be sure which of these situations is the case, until a considerable period of time has passed. For many women these two life stages look almost identical and it’s not surprising that they may confuse one with the other.
It’s reasonably easy to establish the truth – a pregnancy test kit will reveal reality for a couple of pounds! But again, for many women this isn’t a straightforward question either: they may desperately want another child, or know that their partner really doesn’t. If this would be their first pregnancy, it really doesn’t occur to many women that menopause is an option, their symptoms are something that they have only ever heard ascribed to pregnancy so that’s where their mind goes. Equally, many women never consider they might be pregnant because they know they are going through the menopause.
Menopause and pregnancy: the facts
- Women can get pregnant until two years after their last period
- Natural conceptions occur in women who have reached their mid-fifties
- As we age, the risk of our pregnancy being abnormal increase
- Science now makes it possible for post-menopausal women to become pregnant
It’s all a bit staggering, and it’s a lot to take in at the very same time that we often feel our minds are becoming less sharp (which is another symptom that can be ascribed to either ‘old age’ or ‘baby brain’ with equal ease!)
Like Ceta in our video, many women are surprised to discover their ‘pregnancy’ is actually the result of menopausal symptoms and this can bring its own kind of grief. Even women who didn’t want a baby can feel a loss and disappointment when this potential adventure is taken away from them. And let’s be honest, being menopausal is nowhere near as much of an adventure as being pregnant – nobody tells you you’re blooming or gives you their seat on the tube when you’re entering the menopause!
So what do we do? Well one thing that really helps menopausal women seems to be talking about their experiences with others who’ve taken the same journey – which is why we invite you to leave a comment below, or if you’d like to tell your story online to help other women master their own menopause, please get in touch so we can talk about featuring you in one of our videos.