Your doctor confirmed that you have premature ovarian insufficiency (POI). You’re feeling guilty because of your diagnosis – or perhaps angry because he doesn’t understand how you’re feeling. You worry that he’ll stop loving you. He doesn’t understand why you’re crying all the time, or where the anger and feeling of loss is coming from. You’re both feeling confused, concerned, and anxious by the change in your life.
Even if your husband or partner is extremely supportive, you may find that POI or early menopause puts new stresses on your relationship. In many ways, menopause becomes another partner in your relationship, a new factor that you both aren’t used to dealing with. When you go through such a major a transition, your partner goes through it with you. It’s important for your partner to understand the changes you are experiencing and how to deal with these changes together.
So it’s important to start the discussion about menopause with your partner sooner rather than later. Have an open and honest conversation so your partner won’t misinterpret your behaviour, but more importantly so you don’t feel like you have to go through it alone.
Here are some tips I used to manage the menopause discussion
Be clear about what’s happening
It’s so important that you speak to your partner about how you feel. Early menopause can be an emotional time. While it may feel easier to shut him out or try to hide the pain, don’t do this. Instead open up to him about what you are going through. Let him know that you’re experiencing new feelings and physical symptoms because of menopause, and that you’re trying to understand and adjust to them. Let him know that changes in your behaviour are due to this transition and not him.
Also thank him for understanding and for any offers of support he gives. Let him know you understand this won’t be an easy adjustment but that you would like him to be there to provide the comfort and support you may need. Letting him know by simply listening will help you cope better with the changes.
Tell Him about Your Physical Symptoms
Some of the physical symptoms you experience such as loss of libido, painful sex, hot flushes or mood swings, can have a negative impact on your relationship if you don’t discuss them with your partner. Explain to your partner the symptoms you are experiencing so he can better understand what you are going through. And let your partner know you’re still attracted to him and it’s important to you that he continues to feel loved. Discuss with him that you still want to maintain your intimacy, but explain that there may be times when you may have to pass on sex, and you would appreciate him being sympathetic to your needs when this happens.
Take the initiative and help yourself, too
One of the most complained about symptom of menopause is vaginal dryness. So if this is an issue for you, talk to your partner about needing to try a lubricant or a vaginal moisturiser. Also talk to your doctor about the types of medications available that may help make sex less painful. Remember also that having regular sexual activity – not just intercourse – will help maintain the vaginal tissue and make intercourse less painful. So be creative with foreplay, take your time and enjoy your partner.
show your partner how to succeed in helping you and you’ll both benefit.
He can’t read your mind
Initiating a discussion on the topic of menopause may be awkward for your partner simply because he doesn´t know what he can do to help. Let him know how he can help by firstly talking about the physical and emotional changes you experience. Then come up with some concrete suggestions on how he can help you feel better about yourself during menopause. By having an honest and open discussion may help both of you feel better, and perhaps even strengthen your relationship during the transition.
Some suggestion may include:
- Body massage (no strings attached..)
- Giving you a hug more often
- Snuggling together
- Relaxation time when you’re feeling overwhelmed
- Personal space to snap out of a bad mood
- Run you a bubble bath
- Sleep in the spare room if your sleep is being disrupted
- Sleep in a cool room
- Explain things he can do-or avoid doing- around the house
So show your partner how to succeed in helping you and you’ll both benefit. And when he does try to help, remember to thank him for paying attention and hearing you.
Seek his input about treatment options
Having early menopause your doctor will probably discuss a number of treatment options available to you, as you experience the effects of the menopausal transition. Though you should ultimately choose the treatment that feels right to you, your partner may be able to help you weigh the pros and cons of various menopause treatments. Some of these options include hormone replacement therapy (HRT), as well as alternative medicines and possibly herbal supplements. It is important that you find the right one for you, your body, and your symptoms. Discuss these options with your partner, and together, you will find the right one that will help you.
Also remember that your physical or emotional discomfort affects him, too.
Go to the doctor together to discuss family planning options
Women experiencing POI face many physical and emotional symptoms that occur during the transition. POI also causes infertility for most women with the condition. So if you have been diagnosed with POI, don’t rush into making decisions about family planning. Take time to talk with your partner and perhaps research your options. It can be a distressing and difficult time and you will need your partner’s support. Openly share your feelings and thoughts as well as listening to your partner’s.
Ask your partner to go to medical appointments with you can help in a number of ways:
- Your partner will have a better understanding knowing what is happening to your body
- What options are available?
- The processes involved
- Attending doctor appointment together will help with the discussion and decision making.
So ladies, let’s now talk.
How did you started the talk about menopause with your partner?
With love and gratitude