So many of my menopausal clients feel misunderstood by their partners, so much so that it causes issues in their relationships. Numerous clients and workshop participants have expressed a wish for their partner to better understand what they’re going through.
As well as going through perimenopause and menopause, women are often holding down jobs, are the main caregiver, do the majority of the housework, and even look after elderly parents. Two recent studies confirm that women do the majority of the housework when living with male partners (don’t @ me men; I know that’s not all of you!).
So this blog is for you, ladies. Show this to the man in your life and let me know if it helps!
What Is Menopause?
Let’s go back to basics. The word menopause comes from the Greek men (month) and pausis (cessation). Menopause defines the permanent cessation of menstruation and actually only refers to one day.
The official definition of menopause is when a woman has not had a period for a year, although women may experience the hormonal rollercoaster of perimenopause for 12-13 years prior.
Don’t expect because we’ve spent years moaning about our periods that we will be grateful when they stop! It’s just not that straightforward.
What Happens In Menopause?
Menopause is caused by a decline in the body’s sex hormones oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, and is a natural part of ageing. The average age for menopause is 51.
It is one of the most significant transitions in a woman’s life and brings with it several physiological, emotional and mental changes.
What Do You Need To Know About Menopause?
Although the transition from childbearing age to menopause is a perfectly natural one, many women’s experience of menopause is by no means positive. It can be a really hard transition; the main thing I hear in clinic is ‘I don’t feel like myself anymore’. I know that’s not an actual symptom, but if it were, I think it would be no.1!
Common symptoms of menopause include weight gain, fatigue, anxiety, depression, achy joints, brain fog, insomnia, forgetfulness, vaginal dryness, low sex drive, osteoporosis, and the infamous hot flushes and night sweats.
In a small survey I carried out, ‘mood swings’ came out as the most debilitating symptom; I get that it must be very confusing when your partner suddenly swings from fine to weepy to ‘hormonal ragey’. It’s not her fault and she doesn’t want to feel like that any more than you want her to. Try not to take it personally; it’s probably not aimed at you.
What Can She Do About It?
The medical management of menopause is HRT and/or antidepressants.
There are plenty of nutrition and lifestyle changes she can make, which may have a positive impact on her menopausal symptoms.
Point her towards my blog, How To Embrace Your Menopause Naturally, and download my FREE guide to managing mood in perimenopause from my website.
Sex And Menopause
There are often physiological issues when it comes to sex during menopause; with a decline in oestrogen frequently leading to vaginal dryness, and even vaginal atrophy, rendering intercourse unpleasant and painful.
What can you do about this? Well for starters you can invest in a good quality lubricant; I recommend Yes, Hyalofemme, and Into the Wylde. Sea buckthorn oil supplements can also help.
Foreplay is more important than ever, with a menopausal woman needing a lot longer before she is ready for intercourse. The days of wham bam thank you ma’am are gone, I’m afraid!
How Is Your Partner Feeling About Herself?
Menopause can be a very vulnerable time for women; many struggle with weight gain, which can leave them feeling far from attractive, and not wanting to take their clothes off.
Make sure to make your partner feel loved and sexy. She needs to know you love her at every stage and that she’s still the gorgeous woman you fell in love with.
There is also an emotional disconnect between men and women when it comes to sex; men often want sex to unwind and de-stress, whereas we are much more likely to want sex when we feel good about ourselves.
Keep communication open, honest and frequent!
Try not to take a woman’s lack of sex drive personally; it’s not as simple as she doesn’t fancy you anymore.
Along with vaginal dryness, weight gain and exhaustion, her oestrogen and testosterone, the hormones responsible for libido, are rapidly declining.
How do I Help my Menopausal Partner?
Well I’m glad you asked. I am pretty sure that doing the dishes is every woman’s love language!
Seriously though, if your partner is tired after a long day’s work and has to come home to looking after kids, making dinner and tidying up, you cannot expect her to have any energy left or be in a good mood.
As for sex, forget it Sunshine!
So, ask her what she needs. She will greatly appreciate it.
You Don’t Need To Make It Better
If your menopausal partner is feeling emotional, anxious, or even misunderstood at work, she probably wants you to listen, give her a hug, and make her feel heard. She gets that you can’t solve all her problems, and she doesn’t expect you to.
Menopause can be a super vulnerable time for women; I often hear ‘I feel like I’m going mad’ in my clinic.
The bad news is the symptoms can last for many years; the good news is it won’t last forever.
The other bit of good news is that I can help.
In the meantime, be patient, listen, and communicate!