(BlackDoctor.org) — What’s a man to do when his partner is going through “the change?” Menopause is about more than just a woman’s period stopping, and you can both survive the challenges if you know what to expect. Many women don’t know what to expect when the change starts — and because of this, their husbands and significant others can be even more clueless.
As a woman approaches menopause, the stage of life where menstrual cycles permanently stop, hormone levels in her body can fluctuate, resulting in mood swings, tiredness, and bothersome menopause symptoms like hot flashes. With all of these changes, it can be difficult to figure out what to do — and what not to do — to keep both you and your partner happy and balanced.
News Flash: How to Survive Her Hot Flashes
To help keep the peace at home, consider the following tips:
- Prepare for grumpiness. Unless you’re with one of the few lucky women who aren’t bothered with menopause symptoms, mood swings are likely. This happens as the female hormones estrogen and progesterone surge and ebb in the body. Grumpiness can also result from poor sleep, which menopausal women experience as they deal with hot flashes and night sweats. Flexibility is the key to dealing with mood swings, even the ones that seem to be caused by … nothing. If your partner is steamed because you brought home the wrong brand of milk, for example, give her some space instead of getting defensive. Likewise, if she’s sobbing at a cat food commercial, lend her a shoulder to cry on. And, perhaps most importantly, don’t complain if she turns the thermostat to just a few degrees above freezing.
- Be patient in the bedroom. Sex can, quite literally, be a sore spot for a woman going through menopause. As estrogen levels drop, the tissue in and around the vagina can dry out, making it more sensitive. When women go through menopause, it just gets paper-thin. They can get cuts just from using toilet paper. Many women also tend to lose interest in sex during menopause because their levels of the male hormone testosterone, which helps fuel libido, can drop along with other hormones. The bottom line? Be patient. If your partner just isn’t in the mood (again), don’t press the issue. Most women’s libidos usually revive after menopause is complete. If she’s willing but has physical pain, suggest she talk to her doctor about vaginal estrogen creams to help relieve the dryness.
- Make her feel beautiful. Many women feel less than feminine as they go through menopause. Some mourn the loss of their reproductive abilities. Others may find their weight creeping up, even if they’re maintaining their normal diet and exercise routines. Add that to the constant hot flashes, — the body’s function is in overdrive — and you’ve got a recipe for one sweaty, unhappy woman. To help improve your wife’s self-image, remind her that she looks great. You can also suggest a date night, a leisurely dinner out over a glass of wine, for example, or even just an evening on the couch with some movies or playing cards.
Know that menopause is not forever. Menopause may seem like the bad gift that keeps on giving, but you can take comfort in knowing that things do get better. The transition into menopause can last up to eight years or so, but most women feel their symptoms most acutely for only about two years. But it does get better. Things will go back to the way they were before. Just offer support. She’ll notice that, and appreciate it.