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Men and the Menopause

By Elisa Cottarelli | Team MM

When you’re already frustrated with the world and can’t seem to catch your breath, the last thing you need is someone else being upset with you too. The menopause can make us irritable and ill-tempered and it’s likely we’ll overact at some point or another. For the people around us, like our husbands and partners, this might seem like an unruly attitude or a major change in character. While it’d be so much nicer if the men in our lives just simply understood what was going on, it’s important to remember what we’ve all known all along: men are not mind readers.

The more you talk about it, the easier your and his life will be in the long run.

Just as it’s important to break the silence about the menopause among women, it’s also important to bring men into this conversation too. There are so many women who don’t know enough about the menopause and its symptoms, so the likelihood of your partner knowing more about it than you do is remote. If you haven’t already, it’s time to bring up the conversation! Remember, there is nothing embarrassing about the menopause: it’s natural, normal and will happen to every woman. The more you talk about it, the easier your and his life will be in the long run. If you’re not sure what to say in the conversation, here are a few ideas to get you going:

1. The menopause is much more than just the end of your periods

It’s incredibly important to explain what the symptoms of the menopause are, including the non-physical ones. It can be hard to understand how all these symptoms are related, but there is so much evidence that links the depletion of estrogen to mood swings, depression, hair loss, dry skin, loss of libido and all the rest! It’s not in your head, it’s science.

2. Symptoms have consequences

Let’s say your hot flushes are really taking a toll one day and so you turn down the thermostat. Or let’s say your brain is feeling particularly foggy, and as a result, you’ve left the milk out. It’s not just about explaining what the symptoms are but explaining the effects these symptoms can have. That way, when your home or apartment is feeling a little bit colder than usual, your partner might understand why!

3. The sex will change

The menopause doesn’t mean the end of your sex life, but it can mean that things might be a bit different. Having the talk about the menopause includes talking about how things might be different in the bedroom. You might start by explaining that because of the changes happening to your body, there are some days where you might not feel like being intimate at all. And even when you do feel like it, it may seem as if you are not as aroused as usual. It’s really important to assure your partner that it’s not him, it’s your hormones. This is especially true if you’ve been together for a long time because to him it might seem that you’re losing interest or that you don’t find him as attractive as you once did. You might also introduce the subject of using a lubricant during intercourse. Planning date nights and special occasions to make you feel confident and desired can make a real difference!

4. What they can do to help

Again, men are definitely not mind readers. They might not know what the best way to help you get through the day is. Everyone is different, and if you explain how he can best help you, you’ll end up helping yourself!

Remind him that it’s just the menopause and not something he’s done.

When you start that conversation, handling the menopause with your partner becomes a two-way street: hopefully, he’ll become more understanding and helpful, but likewise, it’s important to respect his feelings too. If you’re having a particularly bad day or angry moment, a simple apology goes a long way! Remind him that it’s just the menopause and not something he’s done. Men can experience similar physical symptoms too as they age (note: we are not saying there is a “male menopause” as some articles on the Internet like to suggest), so you’re likely to be feeling some of the same things, like joint pain and fatigue. Open dialogue is difficult, but knowing you’ve got a good support system around you and that the man in your understands what you’re going through will make the process a lot easier.