The Men's Guide To Menopause

man walking looking at his phone(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.

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Menopause And Hot Flashes

 

air conditioner unit in window

Air conditioner unit in window

(BlackDoctor.org) — “It’s getting hot in here.” No, I’m not reciting the lyrics of an extremely popular musician. I’m reciting the sentiments of numerous menopausal and pre-menopausal women. Hot flashes overheat three out of every four menopausal women. Marked by a sudden and intense heat that rises from the abdomen to the head, hot flashes are frequently associated with insomnia and heart palpitations.

What causes heat flashes? Hot flashes are a result of your body’s thermostat at work. Hot flashes are attributed to decreased production of the hormone estrogen. According to Dr. Joseph Sanfilippo, professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, “There is a thermoregulatory center in the brain which wants to maintain your 98.6-degree body temperature. The brain has estrogen receptors, and for all these years estrogen has been a component in maintaining a normal temperature. When the estrogen levels begin to drop, this delicately balanced, estrogen-sensitive brain triggers a response to increase the body’s temperature.”

Don’t jump the gun by blaming all hot flashes on menopause. Hot flashes may be symptomatic of other conditions. Tell your doctor when you first experience hot flashes. Though far less common, there are other conditions that may result in a rush of heat to the body and face. In women, symptoms of an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can equate with hot flashes, as well as symptoms of carcinoid syndrome. The National Women’s Health Information Center also points out that hot flashes, including sweating, palpitations and anxiety, are common side effects in women receiving chemotherapy or hormone therapy for breast cancer. A flushed sensation with increased heat to the face and head can also be a physiological result of acute stress.

Hot flashes are not something you have to live with. If they are extremely bothersome there are treatments that can subdue them. “The best treatment for hot flashes is estrogen replacement—period, bar none,” states Dr. Sanfilippo. “There are many studies from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists supporting estrogen therapy for the treatment of hot flashes, so that’s where you start the discussion.” Risks have been associated with hormone therapy, though less so for low doses of estrogen therapy specifically. If you are interested in estrogen therapy, consult a doctor who understands your entire health history.

Also remember that estrogen therapy is not the only treatment available for hot flashes. Talk with your doctor about the menopause management plan that’s best for you.

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