During menopause, couples need good transition and navigation tools; the most important is . . .
Menopause opens the door to freedom from contraception but is also a time of annoyances such as vaginal dryness, dryer skin, weight gain, acne, and hair loss. You may have mood swings, fatigue, hot flashes, reduced libido, or brain-freeze. Most women do not experience all these symptoms, but having a few of them can feel like a few too many.
The effects of menopause undoubtedly impact relationships, and women are now sharing the menopausal limelight with men (male menopause). More than ever, this life transition is not an individual’s experience, but a couple’s phase as well.
Adding spice to the mix, family structure frequently changes during this time. Children leave, or leave and move back home. Maybe one or both of you is considering early retirement or a late-in-life change of vocation; or your sense of purpose is morphing.
You and your partner likely learned to communicate well with each other over the years. Good communication helps couples navigate through this expected but unpredictable part of the journey, but symptoms can make expressing yourself difficult. It’s not easy to be open with thoughts and feelings when you're tired, moody, dealing with battered self-esteem, and concerned about the past or future.
Menopause Navigation Tips
- With all the physical changes being experienced, a healthy, balanced lifestyle is the second most important menopause navigation tool (the first being communication). It's wise to increase your consumption of veggies (especially dark green ones) and fruit, and eat plenty of omega 3s and 6s by dining on salmon or sprinkling flax seed on your cereals and salads.
Keep in mind that tranquilizers and alcohol are depressants and might give your mood swings some mood swings.
- Choose a type of exercise that you will actually do. If you want a feminine six pack but hate crunches and pilates, you will end up failing at exercise. If you need company to work out, start, or join a walking group, or attend an exercise class. If you are only motivated to exercise while playing, shoot hoops, or hit a tennis ball off the garage door.
This time of life is perfect for learning yoga, qi gong, Tai chi, or mindfulness meditation. They calm the mind, lower blood pressure, and keep joints flexible.
- You may feel like isolating during menopause, and time alone can be valuable, but also make plans with friends or family, and think about volunteer work (if you haven’t already). Do things you love but rarely had time for when the kids were home. Read, write, garden, take a class, travel, paint, bake, or make birdhouses.
- If you and your partner have difficulty communicating, it will be worth your while to see a relationship counselor. It can be for a few weeks or months, whatever is enough to help each of you understand and support the other while on the menopause express.
Learn more about menopause, including how to talk to your partner about it, at Healthline.com.