Menopause is defined as having no menstrual periods for one year, secondary to declining hormone production from the ovaries.
The average age of menopause is between 51-52. The majority of women stop having periods somewhere between ages 45–55, but the beginning stages of declining ovary function can begin years before that in some women, while others will continue to have menstrual periods into their late 50s.
The age of menopause is genetically determined, but such things as smoking or chemotherapy can accelerate ovary decline, resulting in earlier menopause.
Like the experiences when she’s on her period or during pregnancy, every woman’s experience is unique. Some women have a variety of menopause symptoms, while others may have very few or even none. Generally symptoms are caused by fluctuating levels of two female hormones, estrogen and progesterone.
Signs menopause may be approaching include irregular menstrual period. Hot flashes and night sweats can also occur, along with sleep problems, mood swings, difficulty with concentration, forgetfulness, sexual changes, urinary issues, joint pain, skin dryness, fatigue, bone loss, headaches and palpitations may also occur, along with a loss of libido, vaginal dryness and pain and urinary problems, brought on by a reduction in the amount of the female sex hormone oestrogen being produced. This reduction eventually leads to eggs not being released by the ovaries every month, so a woman’s periods stop; this needs to happen for 12 consecutive months before menopause has officially been reached.
1. Know what to expect
Some women go through menopause with hardly a symptom, but most experience varying degrees of changes in their bodies. Be sensitive to what your partner is going through and be sympathetic to how she’s feeling. Do not add to her frustrations, rather look for ways to help minimise her discomfort.
2. Don’t take it personally
You need to realise that your partner’s distress over her body, lack of libido or prevailing anger is not about you. Her comments might be directed your way, but really it’s the hormones talking. Don’t think your relationship is falling apart or that she doesn’t love you anymore. Remember, this period will eventually pass.
3. Share your feelings
Though your role is to be supportive, if you feel she’s acting very unreasonably, tell her how you feel and how her actions affect you. You need to be understanding, but you don’t have to silently take abuse.
4. Know when it’s serious
If your partner has withdrawn from her usual activities and seems extremely miserable, urge her to see a doctor. Depression can be a seriously debilitating condition and might not get better without intervention. You need to be at her back if she can no longer see reality and needs some medical attention.
5. Seek help if you need it
If your wife’s menopause is making you overly angry or exasperated, you might benefit from some professional help, too. Ask your doctor, clergy or trusted friend, who is acquainted with these kinds of issues for some advice. Sometimes just talking things out can be helpful.
6. Stay optimistic
Remember, this too will pass. You will get your partner back. She will want to have sex again. She’ll turn the air conditioner back to a reasonable setting. Meanwhile, try to be patient, helpful, supportive and thoughtful. She would do the same for you.