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Dear Men: 8 Things You Must Know About Menopause

Angela Mager is doing us all a big favor by sharing this open letter to men everywhere about Menopause. Read more about women’s health on her website, Happy, Healthy and Hormonal.
open letter to husbands of menopausal women
(A note to the ladies:  Perimenopause and menopause can be confusing times for some of us.  We don’t understand what is going on with our bodies ourselves.  How can we expect our husband to understand?  He never really understood before, so why start now?
I’ll tell you why.  Because it will save everyone’s sanity.  You aren’t crazy, but he may think you are if he doesn’t understand what happens to all women due to their hormones, at varying degrees.
As a service to you, I wrote this open letter to husbands of menopausal women.  Share it with him, and any other man who needs to know.  You’re welcome.)
Dear husband of a woman nearing menopause,
I think it is wonderful that you are reading this letter! You are proving that you are a man of real character, and you honestly want to understand how you can best support your wife.  Kudos to you!
The thing is, we are all getting a little older all the time.  We prefer not to think about it, but its true.  With age, there are some changes that happen, and some of those changes aren’t pleasant.  Your wife is sharing this with you because she is feeling some of those changes happening herself.
We joke about menopause sometimes, but these things really trouble us.  It would help you both if you understood a few things.
Like these:
Mood swings
She has no control of her moods.  Its just as frustrating for her as it is to you.  Crying during a car insurance commercial seems just as ridiculous to her as it does to you.
She realizes that a wet towel laying on the floor instead of hung up on a hook (where it does belong, let’s all agree here), is not the end of the world.  Yes, the anger is out of proportion.  Its not about you.  Its the hormones.
If mood swings were bad prior to perimenopause, be prepared that they can get much more extreme before they get better.
Just be aware, and give her a break.
Hot flashes 
Despite the fact that people joke about them, and she may even act light-hearted about it, hot flashes are somewhere between uncomfortable to miserable, depending on how severe they are for her.  Even if she jokes about them, there is nothing funny about them.  Have empathy.
Night sweats
Hot flashes at night are experienced as night sweats.  Waking up with wet pajamas is no fun, and makes for very interrupted sleep.
She may just throw off some covers, or she may need to change the sheets in the middle of the night.  Tolerance is important here.  Yes, your sleep will be affected too.  Don’t forget, you two are in this together.  You never had a baby to push out of your body, and you will never have a hot flash. Consider yourself lucky, and help her!
It would be very thoughtful if you get her some pajamas that will wick the moisture away.
Low Libido
Its not you.  Its her hormones.
A helpful approach is to be absolutely free of expectations.  Give her a no obligation foot or back massage.  Hold her hand for no reason, or put your arm around her.  When you offer her these physical signs of affection without expectations, you may get surprised.  Her long lost libido can be kindled with kindness.
Vaginal dryness
Sex won’t be what it used to be.  This dryness can make things very uncomfortable, and can contribute to the low libido mentioned above, especially if not handled with care.  You may want to procure some lubricant, being careful to ensure it is for this purpose (Vasaline is a big N-O).
No need to make a production of having purchased it.  Simply know that, should you need it, you have saved her the akwardness of buying it herself.
It is not unusual for a woman to become more anxious at this time.  This is very distressing for her.  Her concerns are very real to her, and she is aware of how out of proportion they seem.   Don’t try to fix the situation by offering suggestions, solutions, or rationalizations.  Better to listen, and be supportive.
A word of warning.  Anxiety can become so serious that professional psychological support may be necessary.  Further, the anxiety may be a symptom of a physical disorder, or adverse effect of a medication.  When in doubt, err on the side of caution, and encourage her to visit her doctor.  Accompany her to the appointment as a sign of solidarity.
This may be one of the earliest signs of perimenopause.  She is not having dementia, she is just hormonal.
She may become concerned about her own forgetfulness, feeling like she is getting old and “its all downhill from here”.  This is not the case.  Once her hormones become stabilized, her memory will improve.
A new era
The symptoms of perimenopause last an average of 10 years.  That is a long time.  Yes.  So, settle in to being a wonderfully supportive husband, and watch your marriage flourish!  The best years are ahead.

Angela Mager, RN, HC

I am an RN and a cardiac wellness coach. I work with women at risk for heart disease to help them finally succeed at creating a healthy lifestyle that they love, so that they can feel energetic, grow confident, and love their life.

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Thursday 23rd of April 2015

Thank you for this! It is spot on. Thank you, thank you, thank you! It's a wonderful feeling to know you're not nuts....that others experience it too. I'm 43 and have gone 10 months twice without a period (and now 8 months into the third round) and have been experiencing all of this, but as of yet, none of my peers have, so it's an isolating feeling. Thank you, again.

Angela Mager

Thursday 23rd of April 2015

I am so glad it was helpful to you! No, you are not nuts, and certainly not alone. :)

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