Learn about the 35+ symptoms of menopause [START HERE]. They are experienced differently for every woman (some don’t experience any!) and they change over time. New symptoms appear and old ones disappear, symptoms might seem worse around ages 45 – 51, and then many will settle down in the years after the woman has her last period, usually after age 51.
Sometimes listening is the best thing you can do. Menopause symptoms cannot be solved with a pill, and the menopause transition can take 12 years or more for some women. Suggestions and solutions when what she wants is to describe her experience can be frustrating and lead to conflict when your honest intention was only to help.
Hold family meetings to communicate and keep everyone informed. New symptoms? Bad meltdown? Encourage open communication on menopause symptoms within your family, friends and co-workers. Talking factually and compassionately about menopause makes you a better partner and employer. Talk to your own counsellor about your changing relationship and finding positive ways to adapt and adjust to the new reality.
Validating the hidden and unwanted symptoms of menopause transition is important to women because they are likely to be frustrated with the healthcare they are getting, and the lack of answers out there to explain what is going on with their changing mind and body. Encourage people to keep track of their symptoms to see how they change over time. This will also give them information for their healthcare provider that is useful for the appointment.
There are many things you can do. Be compassionate. Be thoughtful. Be kind. Be patient. Look for ways to help reduce the load and feelings of overwhelm and fatigue. Give a massage. Make a healthy dinner. Pour a bath with a candle. Go out for a walk together. Tell her she’s beautiful.
Things are changing, and in some ways they will never be the same. Menopause transition brings lower libido, fatigue, mood swings, fits of anger, painful vaginal dryness, uncomfortable hot flashes, among many other possible symptoms. Your sex life is likely a tragic victim of this natural process and will require more work from you both to stay satisfied. The sooner you adjust your expectations of the new reality the better. Go get that lube.
Women going through a tough menopause transition often have low self-confidence. Things are changing against their will and they can’t do things they used to do in the same way. They feel overwhelmed more easily, just as their life responsibilities have become more intense. Rather than asking questions like “What’s wrong with you?”, you might instead ask “How can I help?” This builds confidence and self-efficacy, rather than feelings of guilt or shame.