What women wish men knew about menopause
Most men may assume menopause has nothing to do with them. That’s a “woman thing” and why would they need to know much about it anyway? But any man who is wise knows that understanding menopause and what his partner is going through can make a huge difference in their relationship – good or bad.
The reason why men should be as informed as they can about this change of life for women is that not only is menopause hard on her but is hard on the man who loves her. While a man is not physically feeling what a woman experiences during menopause - hot flashes, mood swings, anxiety, insomnia, or night sweats – these symptoms can have strong ramifications on the relationship affecting their day-to-day communication to their sex life.
What men should expect
Menopause occurs officially when a woman has not had a menstrual cycle for one year. But the process of getting there is accompanied by various symptoms and can take a long time – as in years. Menopause symptoms can begin as early as 7 years before a woman’s final period – the official sign a woman has completed menopause – and can last 5 years or more afterward. This means there could a potential of 12 years of disruptive symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood swings.
Men should know that the average age of menopause for women in the U. S. is 51, but many women will start to have symptoms years before that. The cause of these symptoms are due to fluctuations and changes in a woman’s hormone levels (estrogen and progesterone) during this stage of her life which affect the body’s ability to regulate its core temperature.
Keep in mind that all women have their own unique experience with menopause. Some women are plagued with difficult-to-deal with symptoms while other women barely notice much change. If your partner is having a hard time, be there for her. She will need you to lean on and to be supportive of her during this challenging phase of her life.
To emphasize other ways to show support, here are guidelines all men should know and use to keep their relationship strong:
· Understand menopause
Since a woman will have many feelings and thought regarding menopause, your job is to be sensitive to what she is going through and be sympathetic to how she is feeling. If your response is, “It can’t be that bad,” will only add to her frustrations. That’s why it’s important to look for ways to help minimize her discomfort. Offer to cook dinner or rent a movie. Show her you care and want to be a loving partner.
· Don’t take it personally
When your partner is distressed over her changing body, lack of libido or prevailing angst, remembers it’s not about you. Even though she may say hurtful things directed at you, it really the fluctuating hormones talking. Your relationship is not falling apart, she still loves you. Like all tough times, it too shall pass.
· Every woman experiences menopause differently
No woman and no menstrual cycle is alike. Each woman will have a different experience and outlook on their menstrual cycle and comfort level with their bodies. These factors will affect their experience going through menopause.
· There will be physical changes hard to handle
Besides the emotional changes that go along with menopause, physical changes are also difficult to handle. Headaches, vaginal dryness, painful sex, and changes in weight or hair can be some physical side effects of the change of life. An understanding and supportive partner is invaluable at helping her deal with these changes.
· Share your feelings and let her share hers
While you should show support for her, at the same time don’t resign yourself to being her punching bag. It’s important to discuss with her calmly if she is being unreasonable and her actions have hurt you. If she is blaming you for things such as being at fault for her not being able to sleep or you turned on the heat too high causing her to have hot flashes, tell her that it hurt you. It’s not right to have to take the blame for things out of your control.
However, when she needs to vent, letting out her feelings, stop what you’re doing and listen. Just simply keeping quiet, nodding your head in understanding, can be quite powerful in allowing her to release pent-up feelings while you show her support without bias.
· Know when things are more serious
One symptom some women may have during menopause is depression. Be on the lookout for signs of her withdrawing from her usual activities or seems extremely miserable, urge her to see her doctor. Depression is a debilitating condition and may not get better without intervention.
· Seek help if you need it
If the situation is getting worse causing you to become overly angry, exasperated or depressed, seeking professional help can be beneficial. Talking with a therapist or joining a support group dealing with these issues is a good way to express your feelings of what you are going through and how to better deal with it. A good therapist or support group can help you talk about your feelings while offering advice to improve your relationship.
· Stay optimistic
Like all things in life, this too shall pass. Going through a major bodily change is not easy but eventually she will return to her normal self. Patience, being supportive and helpful, thoughtful and understanding, will get you through this time and you’ll be a better man for it.