What All Men Need to Know About MenopauseJun 11, 2021
For most women, menopause is uncharted territory.
For many, we go into puberty, fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum with some general knowledge about what to expect. Whether we learned about in school (remember “the period talk” in 5th grade science class), through friends (remind me again the difference between first base and second!), read a book (everyone’s’ favorite What to Expect When You're Expecting), or had open, honest conversations with female family members, your BFF, and your doctor - you were made aware.
But what about menopause? So many of my clients had no idea that women can start menopause as early as 35, that it could last between 3-15 years, and that there are actual stages of menopause (peri, meno, and post)! You know why? Because no one really talks about issues related to midlife and “The Change!”
We see it mocked on TV, in movies, or in memes. Making midlife women out to be crazy, dried up, and bitchy.
We see commercials for creams, patches, medications, and incontinence pads, but do we really know why we need any of those things?
Who’s talking about the 40+ symptoms you may experience as your hormone levels change with age?
Who’s discussing what happens in the bedroom?
Or all the physical changes?
Not very many people, I'll tell you that!!
So if women are pretty much clueless about this new season, how can we expect men to understand it?
This is for the men in your life - because when you're going through menopause, it can be a stressful time for them, too. But I promise, you can both survive if you know what to expect.
Gentlemen >>> Here you go:
The first thing you need to understand is that when your partner, sister, significant other, work-wife, or female BFF approaches menopause (referred to as perimenopause somewhere around 40ish) her menstrual cycle begins to change. They may be longer, shorter, more intense, maybe even nonexistent for a while (once she hits 12 consecutive months of no periods she’s post menopausal!!)
The second thing is that ALL women are going to go through menopause no matter what! It's a natural part of life and she can't avoid it. She can ways to minimize the discomforts, but it's going to happen at some point in her life.
As her cycle begins to change, her hormone levels will begin to fluctuate, resulting in mood swings, fatigue, weight gain, and annoying symptoms like hot flashes, headaches, joint pain, insomnia, vaginal dryness, and forgetfulness.
With all of these changes, it can be difficult to figure out what to do or what not to do, how to help, what to say, or simply how to provide general support and love, keeping both of you happy.
I know this is a lot to take in . . . for both women and men, and I understand that some things are just a little bit harder for men to understand. It’s hard to grasp that this new season will affect your partner as a whole - like literally head to toe! It’s so much more than just the end of her reproductive years.
But there’s good news: You can get out unscathed!!
The Men’s Guide to Surviving Menopause:
Be prepared for a little more crankiness. Mood swings are common as women will experience highs and lows of their sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and yes, even testosterone). Show a little extra kindness and don’t be afraid to talk to your partner. Ask her what's wrong, if she would like to talk, or just simply let her know that you are going to give her space.
Because it’s common for women to experience changes in their sleep - insomnia, sleep disturbances, trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, urinary incontinence (meaning they have to pee more waking them up often), night sweats, headaches, joint pain, and increased stress/worrying she may seem way more tired. Again, show compassion and kindness. Encourage her to rest throughout the day, take some of the stress off her plate by offering to help with her long to-do list, and just be patient as she learns what is going to work for her changing body. And remember, this lack of sleep may also be why she seems a little short tempered or cranky.
The biggest tip I can give is to be patient - especially in the bedroom. I know, this is the last thing you want to hear but it’s real and most likely you’re going to experience a dip in action. I promise it’s not you!
Because of our changing estrogen levels, our vagina changes too. It may be more dry or sensitive, making sex uncomfortable and even painful at times. With a drop in our testosterone (which effects our libido), sex may be the last thing on your lady’s mind. It’s common for women to lose interest in sex during menopause.
Make it comfortable for your partner to talk to you openly without judgement about what she is feeling and experiencing. Stand by her and give her the confidence to talk to her doctor about the situation. I promise, there are so many great things out there to help. Whether it’s moisturizers or lubricants to help make it more comfortable from pills to creams to help level out the hormones, your doctor can give you some ways to put that fire back in the bedroom!! And don’t underestimate the power of foreplay!!
A woman’s confidence can take a big hit during this time. Between struggling to control hot flashes during an important meeting, to forgetting the basics (like whether she paid the electric bill or not) midsection weight gain to adult acne - we don’t always feel our best during this time. Make your partner feel beautiful. Use your partner’s love language to make her days a little brighter, making her feel special and valued.
I like to refer to menopause to our caterpillar to butterfly moment. Remind her that this is her time to step into her most true authentic self!! With age comes freedom. Freedom to dream big, to be yourself, to pour back into yourself!! Remind her to spend time pouring into her!! Encourage her to take up a hobby, to move her body by doing something she enjoys doing (yoga, dance, swim), to give herself a little grace and forgiveness!
And finally, understand that while she may be here for some time, she won’t be here forever!! For right now the best things you can do for the both of you are:
Accept and celebrate this amazing women
Focus on other forms of intimacy like touch
Find what works best for both of you
Seek help! Don’t be afraid to talk to a doctor, a therapist, a counselor or health coach - they can provide you lots of strategies to make this time a little less life-altering!
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