A Man’s Guide to Menopause
If your partner is going through menopause, you’ve probably already figured out that she’s dealing with some major changes—and many of those changes come with physical and emotional costs. In some cases, living with someone who is undergoing the effects of the menopausal transition can leave you feeling like your world’s been turned upside down. Fear not! We have some tips to share that might make this temporary stage of life a little more bearable—for the both of you!
But first, what is it?
Menopause is a period of a woman’s life, typically occurring during the later years of middle age, when the production of reproductive hormones begins to decline. Naturally, this decline brings with it some very bothersome side effects (that you may, unintentionally, know all too well), such as irritability, anxiety, depressive mood, hot flashes, sleep disturbances, joint/muscle discomfort, lack of sexual interest, vaginal dryness, and physical and emotional exhaustion.1 Not fun! But these changes are just as new for her as they are for you, and your role in this transition phase of her life may be more important than you think.
Do your part
To help keep the peace in your household, there are a few things you can do.
- Ask how you can help. Offering your support during this difficult time is the absolute best thing you can do for your partner. Just don’t expect a thank-you parade in your honor—you might not get one. However, she will notice and feel grateful that you stand by her even when she’s not feeling like the best version of herself.
- But don’t assume you can help. Think of it this way: No one wants unsolicited advice from someone who can’t fully understand their struggles. Asking how you can help is perfectly fine—just don’t assume you have all the answers. If any suggestions do arise, take care and be kind about it. The old adage comes into play here: “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it!”
- Be there when she needs you. There may be times when she craves your attention, so let those be opportunities to either rev up the romance or be the sounding board she needs during those difficult times.
- Know when she needs space. Your presence may not always be what she needs. Patience goes a long way, especially when dealing with the menopausal transition (which can last for many years). If you feel that your partner is especially irritable, know that giving her space may be the best thing you can do.
- Help keep her accountable to healthy habits. Sticking to healthier foods and getting enough low-intensity exercise can help ease her symptoms and lift her mood.2 There's strength in solidarity! Avoid excess caffeine and alcohol and eat plenty of veggies with your meals. After dinner, suggest taking a walk together. You’ll both feel better and you’ll get some extra quality time together. Win-win!
- But also give her wine and chocolate. Of course, few of us are perfectly healthy all the time, and sometimes a little treat can go a long way. In fact, both red wine and dark chocolate have cardiovascular benefits,3-5 so surprising her with one of these every now and then certainly can’t hurt!
- Make her feel beautiful. Dwindling reproductive hormones make many women feel less feminine. Along with that, weight gain, hot flashes, and depressive mood are just a few of the symptoms that can sink her confidence. That’s where showing affection, giving her compliments, and being extra helpful around the house can make all the difference.
- Don’t take grouchiness personally. It’s not you (most of the time). Hormone fluctuations, combined with all the troublesome symptoms she’s experiencing, mean she’s physiologically prone to mood swings, so try your best to be understanding about what she’s going through. Although she may seem especially sensitive right now, you don’t have to be. Just remember: It’s only temporary.
- Be patient in the bedroom. Declining hormones means your sex life might slow down, too. Less estrogen causes vaginal dryness, which may make sex a sensitive topic. In addition, less testosterone leads to a lower sex drive, so don’t take it personally if she’s not in the mood. Being understanding is the best thing you can do because, again, this is only temporary.
- Learn about it. Try not to stay too much in the dark about “this menopause thing” she’s dealing with. Doing some research on your own won’t hurt, especially if it means you’ll be that much more understanding and patient the next time she gets angry at the remote control or turns the thermostat down to freezing.
Menopause can be a difficult time for any women, and by extension, it may be a difficult time for you as well. Try these tips and make the journey together a little less bumpy.
- Santoro N et al. Menopausal Symptoms and Their Management. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2015;44(3):497–515.
- National Institutes of Health. Preparing for Menopause: A Woman’s Midlife Change. NIH: News in Health. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2018/07/preparing-menopause. Accessed January 8, 2018.
- Mohamed Saleem TS. Red wine: A drink to your heart. J Cardiovasc Dis Res. 2010;1(4):171–176.
- Magrone T et al. Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Polyphenols: From Biology to Clinical Applications. Front Immunol. 2017;8:677.
- Kerimi A et al. The cardiovascular benefits of dark chocolate. Vascul Pharmacol. 2015;71:11-5.
Submitted by the Metagenics Marketing Team