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Coping with menopause

 | March 17, 2013

Menopause is a natural part of life.


“She is so crazy and unreasonable and an emotional wreck!” or “He can never understand what I am feeling and always pisses me off”.

When I talk to my emotionally stressed, or anger management or even dysfunctional relationship couples, the subject ‘menopause” sometimes does strike my mind as a possible culprit in the background.

Many Malaysian man and even woman are not fully educated or prepared to cope with menopause as it approaches in their lives. The fights and the emotional turmoil that it causes disrupt not just their harmony of their homes and relationships but also the reason to why many cannot understand why such behaviour exists in the first place.

If all woman and their spouse and partner where better prepared and engaged in coping with menopause, it powers to inhibit their lives will be lessen.

Menopause is a natural part of a woman’s life. It is the point in time when a woman’s menstrual periods stop and she stops ovulating, and fertility ends. Menopause happens because the ovaries stop producing the hormones, estrogen and progesterone.

Once you have gone through menopause, you can’t get pregnant anymore. The other endocrine glands take over and begin producing some of the estrogen and other hormones that the body need for continuity.

Estrogen is necessary not only in reproduction, its contributes to normal cell function in the arteries, brain, bladder, bones, breasts, heart, liver, skin, and vagina. Complicated chemical interactions produce there types of estrogen which are estrine (E1), estradiol (E2), and estriol (E3).

Menopause is an individualised process for each woman. Symptoms vary in the types experienced, their length, and time. The average age for the start of menopause is 51 years and can last up to five years.

Peri-menopause or pre-menopause could begin as a very slow pace and process around the age of 35 and will continue until actual menopause occurs.

During the time of the menopausal transition (peri-menopause), your periods can stop for a while and then start again. Therefore, the only way to know if you have gone through menopause is if you have not had your period for one year. (And it’s not menopause if your periods stop for some other reason, like being sick.)

After you go through menopause, you are considered in the post-menopausal stage of your life. Your female hormones won’t go up and down the way they used to with your periods. They will stay at very low levels.

Symptoms of menopause

Some women worry about menopause, and it can cause uncomfortable symptoms. But there are many ways to treat symptoms and stay active and strong.

Some of the symptoms of menopause are: hot flashes, dizziness, emotional symptoms (like mood swings, anxiety), numbness in the arms, heart palpitations, insomnia, night sweats, headaches, vaginal dryness and infection, low libido, urinary tract infections and incontinence, and heavy or irregular menstrual periods.

Osteoporosis is not a symptom of menopause, but it is associated because of the decrease in estrogen levels, which may affect cellular bone growth.

Menopause can be a very challenging moment not just for a woman but also her spouse or partner who love them. If you are a menopausal woman struggling with mood swings, hot flashes, insomnia, or midlife existential angst, and you may just wish that your husband would understand or support what you are going though.

Many husbands, spouses or partners want to be supportive, but aren’t sure where to start. Some of them are not even aware that their partner is going through these menopause symptoms and become agitated rather than supportive to her behaviour and moods.

I have often told people that menopause is a benchmark test of your love, understanding and support for her. This is also where, you learn to be patient, tolerating, gentle and kind to her condition.

Maybe the two of you have never talked about how to support each other through something like this. If your children are leaving home for their own lives, or if an aging parent dies and no longer needs attention, you may suddenly have more time together than you’ve had in awhile.

For some couples this is the good news and the bad news. It is the beginning of your “next phase” as a couple, and the great thing is that you can make it a very rich time in your lives.

It boils down to some basic relationship skills, and a willingness to weather the changes together.

Getting support from your partner

Here are some tips for your husband, spouse or partner to support your wife who is experience menopause.

Educate yourself. Learn everything you possibly can about what menopause is like and what changes and experiences are common. Once you see that mood swings and hot flashes are common, and that it’s nothing you are doing, it helps you to relax about all the ups and downs.

Talk. Even if communication has never been your thing, if you say out loud that you want to be helpful, then your menopausal partner will at least know you are on her side.

Believe her. This can be a really trying time, so if your wife or partner says she is doing the best she can, believe her. Sometimes women feel fragile and hardly know themselves during the menopause years, so even if it looks to you as though she could “help it” if she wanted to, it may not be that simple.

Be patient. In the short run and in the long run. Cutting her some slack when she seems sad or angry will go a long way toward being able to be close later.

Don’t personalize her moods. If your partner gets upset, don’t turn her upset into your upset. She can be angry or sad or frustrated, and you can listen to her without making it about you.

Offer to help. Getting help with the dishes or having the living room picked up when she gets home can help ease a hectic schedule. Whatever you can do to keep her from going from busy into overwhelmed is a plus. Especially if she doesn’t have to ask!

Approve of her. This is a perfect time to tell her that you admire her and why.

Remember why you are together. Take the long view. You’ve been together this long for a reason, and you want to be close for the rest of your lives together. In the heat of the moment, remind yourself why you have chosen to stay with her, and in a calm moment you might even want to share that with her.

Support her in pursuing her interests. If she wants to take a night class or join a book group, do what you can to make it easy for her. She will feel more hopeful and eager for life if she can do the things that interest her. And yes, it’s OK to ask the same of her.

Support her health by doing things together. Getting started in an exercise plan is easier if you have company. Offer to take nightly walks with her, or bike around a lake every weekend. It can become a healthy ritual that you both feel good about.

Plan ahead. Talk about situations that stress your relationship and make a plan for dealing with them.

Be playful. Keep your sense of humour and help her feel that there is still fun in your relationship. Plan surprise gifts or secret dinner outings that celebrate your connection.

Don’t pressure her for sex. This is a common struggle during the menopausal years, where libido may wane for her (or for you) and one partner wants sex more than the other. The trick is in finding a balance of closeness, touch and sexual activity.

Learning how to weather the menopausal years can set the stage for more fun and closeness as time goes on. It’s a chance to learn a few new steps in the relationship dance, and sets a tone of caring that can last for years.

Treatment for menopause

Usually, menopause is natural. That means it happens on its own, and you don’t need medical treatment unless your symptoms bother you. Sometimes, though, menopause is medically induced, which means it’s caused by an operation or medication. If so, you should work closely with your doctor to feel comfortable and take good care of your health.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), estrogen replacement therapy (ERT), and natural replacement therapy (NRT) are available. Certain sources claim that HRT and ERT have side effects and may increase the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer, and the autoimmune disease lupus.

Synthetic estrogens are laboratory made and accumulate in the body. They can cause changes in the liver, high blood pressure, fluid retention, and blood clots. Other estrogens used in ERT are from equine (horse) estrogen, which is extracted from pregnant mare’s urine.

This type of estrogen, which is considered a natural estrogen, may cause changes in the liver and may have other risks. Also found in this type of ERT is a type of horse estrogen called equiline, which humans do not have in their bodies. Selection of HRT or ERT requires researching the facts about the side effects and long term effects prior to choosing which therapy is right for you.

Diet plays a major role in managing menopause. Exercise is just as important and helps to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Sex is important during menopause, because it helps decrease symptoms of vaginal dryness and helps hormonal balance.

Having a positive attitude is the best thing you can do to treat menopause. Positive emotions boost the mind, body and spirit, which help in minimizing and eliminating symptoms.

Here is a hypnosis script to help in hot flashes.

“Imagine that every breath you inhale is absorbing the heat in your body. With every exhalation out of your mouth, the breath takes the heat out of your body. Inhale, absorbing the heat. Exhale, releasing the heat.

Watch and feel the breath and how it goes into the body, finding the heat in your face, your neck. Watch as the breath absorbs the heat, making you cooler, more centered. Exhaling the breath as the heat is leaving your body. Continuing breathing deeply. Absorbing the heat and letting it out of your body, breath by breath. Getting centered. Feeling cooler, Feeling very, very calm. Feel how much cooler you are. Watch and feel the heat leave your body. You feel relaxed, cool and in control, and knowing this feeling will stay with you.”

Julian Leicester is a London trained subconscious specialist with Hypno-Station. He is Malaysia’s most renowned clinical hypnotherapist, media personality, columnist, event host and book author. He can be contacted at [email protected]


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