Most women going through menopause typically experience many uncomfortable symptoms. These are generally triggered by the hormonal imbalance that the menopause transition and its changes occasion. Living with menopause symptoms can be trying for both the woman experiencing them and their partners by association. Read on for advice on how to support your partner through their menopausal transition.
Mood swings are a very common symptom of menopause and they can cause women to switch from feeling happy one moment to angry or sad the next. These rapid fluctuations can mystify and frustrate women just as much (if not more) than their partners. Primarily though they are triggered by a shortage of estrogen, which in turn affects the neurotransmitters that regulate mood. When your partner experiences mood swings try to remember that they are symptoms beyond her control.
Hot flashes, or intense episodes of heat and perspiration, are some of the most common symptoms of menopause. They are the result of a drop in the hormones that influence regulation of body temperature. If your partner experiences frequent hot flashes, discover what eases their experience the most and be ready to offer help. Many women find relief in the form of lose clothing, cold water and fresh air.
Night sweats are the nocturnal equivalent of hot flashes and can cause women to wake in the night drenched in sweat. In order to cope with the experience your partner may need to sleep in a different bed with the windows open. To help your wife through the experience, show your support by making small actions like getting her a nightly glass of cool water or some cotton pajamas. Try not to feel like she's pushing you away during this phase, it is important to remember that while she is having a night sweat, she may just need space.
Vaginal Dryness and Loss of Libido
These two symptoms often go hand-in-hand and are rooted in the drop in estrogen levels. In some cases, vaginal dryness and a lack of lubrication can cause a subsequent reduction in libido. If your partner is experiencing both of these symptoms, it's important to take your time with sexual intercourse and ensure that they are fully prepared for penetration. In severe cases suggest using natural lubricants to alleviate the sensation or find other ways to be intimate. Episodes of vaginal dryness and loss of libido may negatively affect a woman's self-confidence, so it is important to demonstrate your continued affection and support.
Sometimes, hormonal imbalances can temporarily affect memory and concentration. If your partner experiences memory lapses or difficulty concentrating, it is essential to be patient and understanding.
Due to fluctuating estrogen levels, some women experience breast pain or tenderness during menopause. This experience can become extremely aggravating and frustrating when combined with other symptoms so try to be understanding. Prepare ice packs to help her ease the pain of this common symptom.
Change in Body Odor
Changes in body odor occur during menopause as a consequence of the changes in hormone levels that also cause other symptoms, like hot flashes and night sweats. Your partner may feel self-conscious about any odor changes she is experiencing, so it is especially important to be understanding, refrain from inappropriate remarks and remember that her symptoms are beyond her control.
While your partner is going through the menopause transition, it is crucial to remain patient and supportive, no matter what kind of symptoms she experiences. Understanding what is happening during the transition and appreciating that it is out of her control is one of the most effective ways of demonstrating your support.
Click on the following link to find out more about how to manage menopause
- BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007.
- Hopkins, Virginia. Lee, John R. M.D. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause. New York: Warner Books Inc., 1996.
- Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
- Martin, Raquel. The Estrogen Alternative. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2000.