Yes, you read that right – this is the MAN’S guide to the menopause! Every single woman goes through it, yet it’s barely talked about. Here we give a man’s guide to the menopause to help you give her the support she needs.
You’ve heard of it, but aside from mood changes in your other half you’re not really sure what it is, or why it’s happening, right?
Well worry no more, because we’re here to help.
Every woman on the planet will go through the menopause at some point– usually around the age of 45-55, but sometimes earlier and sometimes later. And it can have an enormous effect.
Here are the main things you need to know to help her navigate the change as smoothly and happily as possible.
What is the menopause?
You probably know most of this, but just to be clear, the menopause is a natural part of ageing that means a woman’s hormone levels are falling. Oestrogen levels drop as the ovaries stop working, so the brain sends thermal surges through the body in an attempt to get them to work again. By the end, she will no longer get any periods, but the road towards this point can be rocky as falling hormone levels cause all kinds of physical and emotional changes.
How long does it last?
This is a bit of a ‘how long is a piece of string?’ question. The truth is it can, and usually does, last for several years. During this time symptoms are likely to come and go, so you need to be prepared for it not to go away overnight. During this time she is referred to as peri-menopausal.
What are the main symptoms?
One of the main symptoms is mood swings. Just as you may have noticed an increase in moodiness around the time of her period, the changing hormone levels can often cause the same issues during the menopause as well. So if she’s started flying off the handle at small things, try and be understanding. She won’t be enjoying feeling this way any more than you’re enjoying being on the receiving end; it can be very disconcerting and frightening.
It can also cause her to be more emotional and cry at the drop of a hat. It can even cause depression. If it gets that bad then it may be time to suggest she sees a doctor, but only you can be the judge of that. Tread carefully!
Other symptoms include palpitations, hot flushes and night sweats.
Sadly, a lower libido is also a common symptom. Lowered hormone levels make the problem two-fold: firstly, it means a lowered libido; but it also means that the tissue around the vagina can become thinner, which can cause pain.
Skin changes and sometimes weight gain can also be symptoms, which only serve to make her feel worse rather than better about herself.
Will things ever get better?
The short answer is YES! For most women, hormones do settle and things return to normal eventually.
What can I do to help?
You’re doing it! Just by reading this and trying to understand what she’s going through, you’re helping. For most women, the menopause can be scary and worrying because the way she feels is so out of her control. So although you might want to scream back when she screams at you for no apparent reason, if you can try and be kind, she will appreciate it.