Menopause in women doesn’t just affect women. The domino effect of it can ripple across the relationships they have with their families, work and the men in their personal lives. If you have a special man in your life who might be interested in better understanding what you are going through and wants to support you, then this article is for them!
Hi guys! So she’s behaving differently. A bit strange? Maybe a bit, or even very, moody. She’s potentially in her late 40’s/early 50’s. It could be the menopause. This article is to help you better understand what is happening to her and how you, the important man in her life, can support her so that you both can continue to have a wonderful relationship together.
Let’s start with the basics. What is the menopause?
The menopause essentially is when a woman stops having periods and can no longer bear children. It begins with the perimenopause when the symptoms all start. She will move into menopause one year after her last period. It is caused by hormonal changes in her body, not dissimilar to puberty. The key difference is the dramatic reduction in oestrogen. This hormone can wreak havoc. It can affect the elasticity of her skin, slow down her metabolism so weight starts to stick and imbalance other hormones which cause stress such as cortisol.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
There are around FORTY symptoms! They break down into physical and psychological. But the kicker is that there is no one size fits all here, every woman is wonderfully unique and so are her symptoms of menopause. She may have a couple, many, severely, or none at all. No ones knows.
The most common physical symptoms are:
Hot flushes. Suddenly out of nowhere she will become unbearably hot. She can go bright red and sweat profusely. It is a strange type of hot as it can feel like a volcano erupting inside. The fear of a hot flush coming on, or the presence of one can then lead to psychological symptoms such as anxiety.
Night sweats. If you are prone to spoon cuddles in bed, you will find these now last precisely 3.4 seconds. The schloop sound of sticky skin when you pull away will become familiar. As with hot flushes, night sweats come out of nowhere. She will become boiling hot and even sweat profusely. She will likely throw off the blankets and push and/or kick you (a boiling human radiator) to the other side of the bed.
Reduced libido.This will no doubt be a key symptom that will affect you and your relationship. The biggest driver in this area could be vaginal dryness. The lack of oestrogen will make the vagina dry and therefore penetrative sex uncomfortable, which in turn makes sex less enjoyable, which in turn means libido starts to wane. On top of this she could also have sore breasts.
Weight gain. Annoyingly weight seems to stick around the middle, where it is least wanted. This can lead her to feeling fat, uncomfortable and no longer attractive.
Insomnia. In my experience this is the absolute worst. Lying in bed wide awake in the middle of the night while your partner gently snores is not only frustrating but a total kick in the teeth that they could be so lucky.
The most common psychological symptoms:
Mood swings. One minute she is sweetness and light and the next a terrorist. It is important to understand she has no control of this and is probably battling inside to stay calm. She will be very stressed and not know why.
Anxiety. Horrendous, let me tell you on good authority. She will find herself in a familiar situation such as presenting to work colleagues, a job interview, or hosting a dinner party, and ‘out of nowhere’ (that phrase again) she will suddenly find herself with palpitations and a sense of panic. This isn’t her, it’s the hormones.
Loss of concentration. This can be very frustrating for you. Her mind might wander while you are talking to her, you can tell she has switched off. As a guy, you have probably been doing this for a while anyway, so it’s payback time!
Loss of purpose. No longer being able to bear children has its benefits of course. Carefree sex no doubt being the biggest. However, for sone women there is a feeling of sadness and loss. No longer being able to reproduce can make them feel useless, highlighting a sadnees that they didn’t have any children, or enough of them.
How can you help?
What’s important to know is that menopause is a stage in her life. It is not an illness and it will not last forever. It may last a long time however, in some women up to 12 years, so it is what it is and if you want a relationship with this woman, you might need to look at some ways to support her through this. Below are my top tips to help you and your woman in menopause get through it happily:
- Don’t tell her what to do about a symptom eg ‘you should take HRT’ or highlight when a symptom is coming on. This will ensure your death sentence.
- Don’t fight back. If she is having a mood swing and you are on the receiving end it will no doubt be an unpleasant situation for you. But fighting back will only descend into an argument. My counsel to you would be to try and bite your lip and see if it passes. She might not make any sense to you (my husband assures me of this) but keeping calm will be your best strategy through this.
- Go slow with intimacy. Go back to basics and woo her again. It will be a slower process now, one which is all about touching, loving, talking and then gently moving to sex. It might be time to experiment to try new things that she will enjoy, lubricants can also help. That way she will remain relaxed, she’ll feel loved and engaged and her body will naturally prepare for sex. Surely this is nice for you too! And don’t be embarrassed to talk about it. What you want, what she wants. Girls tend to like talking things over and this way the topic should stay on the table rather than be buried to grow and fester. And don’t forget, a compliment can do a lot for her self esteem.
- Have more couple time. Try and arrange a few things together. As exercise becomes more important in her life (to fend off weight gain, aid sleeping etc) maybe engage in regular sport activities together, or have a regular date night (will help if there are intimacy issues)
- Be open to opening windows. A flow of cool air through your home, particularly your bedroom will help her to deal with hot flushes, night sweats and insomnia.
- Try not to eat too late. If she struggles to sleep then adding digestive issues to the list won’t help.
- Be you! She has chosen you so be you, but knowing what you know now about menopause, be a supportive, empathetic and understanding you. She will be grateful to you for your support and in turn her symptoms will ease and your girl will be back (for a bit at any rate).