Ladies this is for the men in our life – why not print this out and leave it on the fridge or somewhere he can find it? Many men can feel at a loss to understand what their partner is going throught during her transition – what can he say and how can he help? It can be just as confusing, stressful and upsetting time for men as well!
What is Menopause? And isn’t she too young?
A. Menopause can happen at any age; however the average age is 51. Premature menopause is when the final menstrual period occurs before a woman is 40. This may happen because:
1. Periods stop spontaneously – due to primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) – hormones are in a state of flux which will eventually lead to menopause (affects up to 1% of women)
2. Menopause is induced by a secondary cause such as:
- surgery – when ovaries are removed surgically (oophorectomy)
- chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment for cancer
How long is this going to last?
A. Unfortunately, perimenopause (time of transition between having periods and her periods stopping) can last up to several years – sorry! It’s a time when hormonal changes start and symptoms often begin. This time can cause all sorts of emotional and physical changes – many of which may seem negative or, at the very least, challenging to her. However, symptoms can also come and go during this transition depending on a number of factors including her physical and mental wellbeing and diet.
She used to be calm and together but now she is all over the place with her emotions – I feel overwhelmed!
A. Please don’t take it personally – the hormonal changes at this time can cause havoc with her emotions! Very often even she doesn’t know how she is feeling, so it can be a very confusing and frightening time for her too. I can’t stress enough that it’s important to be supportive. She needs to know you’re on her side and that you understand she’s not necessarily feeling in control of what’s going on at the moment. Be as sympathetic and understanding as you can, and just keep talking! Communication is everything.
She keeps saying that she sad and distressed – but nothing really has changed
A. Believe her when she says this. Her emotions are high and she may be experiencing grief caused by early menopause diagnosis. She may be grieving the loss of starting a family or adding to the existing one. She may be grieving the loss of her youth and feels her body is ageing prematurely. She may also be worried that you will not find her attractive and fall out of love. So it can be a lonely time for her because there is no one with whom to share the grief and her girlfriends may not understand, because they are not at the menopause stage. Whatever her thoughts, DO NOT criticise or dismiss her feelings because they are very real for her. It is very important to encourage communication and show her that you are willing listen and sympathise WITHOUT offering solutions. Know this – how you manage this phase will make a huge difference to how she feels, both about you and about what’s going on for her.
How you manage this phase will make a huge difference to how she feels, both about you and about what’s going on for her.
She used to be more confident about her body and image – now she just seems miserable all the time and cries.
A. Premature menopause, particularly when it is sudden, can mean a significant change in how she views her body. The sudden drop in hormones brings about symptoms that are frustrating, annoying, confusing and distressing. Hot flushes, weight gain, a dry vagina causing painful sex, low libido and increased risks to bone and heart health are significant changes to experience in your 20s or 30s. And yes she may suddenly feel very unattractive and unlovable – so plenty to cry about! Again, it’s important to be supportive and talk about it all. Let her know how much you love her and that she is still the same women you met and fell in love with, to give her back some of the confidence she may have lost.
There are days when I feel that she doesn’t love me anymore, and when I try to get close she just pushes me away – she has no interest in sex.
A. Remember that menopause brings about a decline in hormones and this can affect her sex drive and can cause fatigue, so yes the last thing she is probably thinking about is sex. Also, hormonal changes can cause pain and discomfort during sex, so yes another reason to not feel like it. She is probably just as confused and frustrated by these changes as you are, so again, talk about it – in a supportive way, not a criticising way.
I’m so overwhelmed by her emotions I can’t seem to help her feel better – I don’t even know if she wants me around.
A. As you know, the diagnosis of a premature menopause can bring many dramatic changes and challenges. In fact women who have premature menopause can be at greater risk of depression, anxiety and mood changes. If her symptoms are really bad and affecting her daily life it is important that she see her doctor. If you believe that suggesting it yourself would not go down well, then maybe ask her girlfriend or a close family member to talk to her about what she is experiencing and they encourage her to see the doctor.
♥Menopause can happen at any age
♥Perimenopause is the months or even years before her period stops – when hormones are in a state of flux and symptoms occur
♥Symptoms can include: hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia, weight gain, mood swings, dry vagina causing painful sex, low libido and increased risks to bone and heart health
♥Really listen to her and talk things through – it can often be the best and easiest way to help!
♥She is may be feeling frustrated, annoyed, confused and distressed, so offering her your full support will help you to not only understand what’s going on in her mind, but that many of the changes in behaviour and mood comes from changes in her hormones
With love and gratitude