Let’s talk about the elephant in the room…the menopause. I was round at my friend’s house having a girlie catch up and casually asked how her hot flushes were going. Instantly I got a ‘shut up’ slightly panicked stare, and then I realised that her husband was sat a few feet behind us.
It seems there is still a bit of a taboo about talking openly about the menopause with men! Many men and women find it embarrassing, difficult or want to keep it their secret cross to bear. It’s time we opened up this taboo and talked openly to everyone about the menopause, especially as it affects nearly half the population. It’s an important topic that can be stressful for the whole family. As someone who has no taboos, I think it is time we shared a simple guide to men on how they can help and what to expect.
So What Is The Menopause
It helps if everyone – men, women and our kids – have a basic understanding of what the menopause is. It is the change in a woman’s body where the ‘menstrual cycle’ starts to pause and slow down the number of reproductive eggs that are being produced. The menopause means a women stops reproducing. Perimenopause refers to the time when the body starts to transition, but before the full transition. It is a time of change for a woman, both mentally and physically, and the change in hormones can cause many different symptoms.
Understand That The Menopause Can Be Complicated
Like most things in life, the menopause can affect women in different ways. It usually starts between 45 – 55 and can last for years. Sometimes it is bought on by illness such as cancer, smoking or a hysterectomy. It’s often difficult to know when it starts and there are some signs that a woman may not talk about immediately. These signs can include irregular periods, hot flushes, vaginal dryness, anxiety, mood swings, irritability, weight gain, forgetfulness, tiredness, breast tenderness, weight gain, slower metabolism, headaches, loss of sex drive, forgetfulness, brain fog and muscle aches
It’s important to understand that every woman is different, ever women’s level of discomfort is different, and the impact on her life is different – so listen to her.
Recognise That It’s Serious and The Changes Are Real
The menopause can deeply affect women mentally, physically and emotionally. It involves serious changes that can be debilitating and affect how you feel at every level. Remember that it’s not something to trivialise.
Those Hot Flushes
One of the most talked about symptoms is the hot flashes or flushes. These are sudden, intense sensations of heat in the skin of the upper chest and face. They occur without warning, often awake women from sleep and are very uncomfortable!
The Embarrassing Weight Gain
The menopause slows down your metabolism which can lead to changes such weight, especially around the middle. Having to buy the next size clothes – combined with media pressure to be thing – can leave us menopausal women feeling old and invisible. Diets can be frustrating as the weight comes off less easily and even if we eat less we seem to put weight on. It can lead to us worrying we are not attractive anymore and lowering our self-esteem. It’s important to be mindful of how these things make a woman feel. Being supportive and complimentary, sharing healthy meals and showing you find her attractive helps
Do not take it personally. The hormone changes cause an emotional roller coaster, causing many women to act out of character. this can include sudden angry outburst or tears. The best response is not to react back, but to be understanding and talk when the atmosphere is calm.
Anxiety And Stress
Anxiety and moods can affect you both. Although it helps if you understand hormones are affecting her if the anxiety and stress levels getting too high then talk about how it is affecting you. Together you can work out what actions you can take to help.
Sexual Pleasure and Patience
Loss of sexual libido is something men often mention. Those falling hormones can lower sex drive. The added complication is that the reduction in estrogen causes vaginal dryness and discomfort with penetration. Combined with all the other changes, including lower self-esteem, can cause many women to avoid sex or not have it high on the agenda.
Take time. Be prepared for more build up, foreplay and touching. Find ways to feel close to building up sexual chemistry. Keep being intimate, touch, keep close and do not let the physical gap become too big.
Give Her A Confidence Boost
All these changes in her body can lead to a loss of confidence. Make sure you are kind about the weight gain and compliment her. Make her feel special and loved so that she doesn’t let the feelings of worthlessness take over.
Be Positive – You Can Help
This is one of lifes natural changes which can pass more smoothly with some healthy habits. Watching what you eat, realising you can’t over indulge too much when eating, cutting down on alcohol and being more healthy can reduce the symptoms.
Make sure you talk through how you can help and be understanding and supportive. Do not blame her, but understand behaviour is hormonal driven
Help her find herbal remedies, specialist doctors, and build a healthy lifestyle. HRT Hormone replacement therapy helps a lot of women as is partial replaces the lost hormones estrogen and progesterone and helps with long term problems like bone density. Botanicals and phytoestrogens, including yam creams, dong quai, and soy products may find a lasting place in menopause management.
And remember men go through menopause changes too such as lower testosterone. The more we talk about the midlife changes we are all going through, the better. The best thing we can all do is listen, and be there for each other . Be patient and keep a sense of humour – that always helps. Like John Bishop says ‘ Menopausal Women Are Hot’
Got more questions? Download our menopause guide for tips, details on treatments and answers to many menopause questions!