Posted by kathryn on October 28, 2010
Although I do have a Men’s Page on my website, menopause is such a diverse subject, I’m often asked to write more. It’s time for men to join the discussion.
Female hormones! Your knowledge is, at best, scant. This is not your fault. No doubt you were often dismissed from a room when ‘women’s problems’ were discussed. But when your partner goes off sex – relationships suffer.
It’s all to do with menopause, starting around the age of 40 and finishing around 51 years of age; a combination of hormonal changes and ageing. Some sail through it, others are belligerent. Your partner is suffering and pretending she can deal with it. In reality, there could be nothing further from the truth.
Let’s start with some basics:
- Irrational fears are a strong feature
- Sleep patterns change; waking up feeling tired, groggy and cranky!
- She may also experience hot flushes – this is like youthful blushing magnified 1,000 times, several times a day
- Night sweats – extreme perspiration
- Depression – not recognising it or how to deal with it
- Loss of libido
- Vaginal dryness
- There are around 30 symptoms
Life becomes a struggle on a daily basis. Sex is rejected, you are rejected and you feel angry and isolated; your help and support may also be rejected – her response is often silence. Hormonal turmoil is the cause which also contributes to the thinning of the vaginal wall making sexual intercourse very painful.
Real life is hard work and distressing symptoms can lead to the breakup of relationships. Your partner will not wish to discuss it. This can be frustrating. Menopause is a very emotional time in a woman’s life, both physically and mentally but there are solutions and you can help.
Communication is the key to everything. As long as you both talk to each other (not shout and argue and try not to apportion blame) – allow each other to express feelings, then your journey will begin.
Male sexual dysfunction
You may also be experiencing changes that you can’t discuss. Erectile dysfunction can start to take effect from the age of 40. A psychological turning point in a man’s life; the Viagra jokes have more meaning. But is Viagra the answer? All drugs have side-effects and for some, Viagra can cause headaches and depression, as well as not achieving an erection. Your testosterone levels may be low, see your doctor, you may just need testosterone patches. More importantly, what use is Viagra when your partner has gone off sex anyway?
Another solution could be vaginal lubricants. Over the counter products don’t always penetrate deep enough into the tissues but suitable remedies are available from the GP. The internet can also offer natural herbal products that really work.
Making love is a very emotional experience – make more of the foreplay. Find out what you both enjoy about sex. It’s not all about full penetration. It’s important not to get cross when you are rejected.
Communication and understanding each other through this traumatic time should see you both walking off into the sunset a happier, better informed and therefore more loving couple.
You’ll find lots of information, including my own personal journey at http://www.simplyhormones.com. See also ‘Menopause: The Movie’ http://www.simplyhormones.com/video.asp highlighting how relationships are affected at menopause:
You can also join me on my blog and voice your own comments: http://simplyhormonespodcast.com