If over 30 million women are going through menopause, think of what the men are going through!
By Valerie Otto
Menopause is not what it used to be. Women are approaching this time of life differently - the new outlook is energized as most women are healthy and become free of many past identities and responsibilities. I'm hoping to see more women incorporate a valuable and natural ally crucial in making this next stage truly exciting -- our men! But we can't do it alone. So based on our completely unscientific research, here are tips I hope our better half will find useful.
Be ready for emergencies. This doesn't require dialing 911, but you still have to move fast. Sometimes the symptoms of menopause may require your loved one to exit quickly. Don't ask questions at the time, there is nothing worse than having to explain yourself in these situations--she'll be sure to tell you later. Just do what she says and move out of the way.
Put yourself in her heels. Imagine what it would be like to potentially go through times of sleepless nights, hot flashes, sweats, memory loss. Are you going to be in a great mood all the time? I don't think so. Think of what this would do to any one's psyche. And yes, there are options available to her to help with this, including natural ones like Oona and flowers (no carnations).
Your marriage is not falling apart. Although you should be ready for a fundamental change. For a period of time, your spouse may seem, well, "not like herself". This may be demonstrated in any number of ways. She may seem more needy, more vocal, more stubborn, and more emotional. Do not discount this experience. Big tip, men, embrace her, understand that this roller coaster "shall pass" and use it as an opportunity to bring you closer. If you listen, you will be able to sort through what is important to your relationship and open up a healthy discussion.
Sex? It still exists. Just don't panic. While her sex drive may dip a bit, it doesn't have to be dormant. Now there are many ways to deal with it. Be resourceful, be creative, keep it fun, and don't be judgmental or rush to conclusions.
Men-O-Pause---men just pause, stop-look at your life. Just like she is doing. Menopause is a time where a woman really takes a look at her life and her health - not only because she feels her body changing. It isn't a bad idea for you either. Use it as an incentive to add some "newness" to your life -- like getting in shape for a long bike trip or make a habit of taking long morning or evening walks.
Don't be a smart ass...Educate yourself, do some research, read some books, go on line. Impress her with the new lingo. Just think how impressed your partner would be if you knew that the reason she was having hot flashes is most likely because her LH levels are high. Her mood swings can be managed. But can yours? For her, there's natural products out there but for you...find some!
The Big "M"-do men go through menopause too? In a way, YES! Actually it's called "andropause", and while it happens more gradually than it does with women it is defined as a decrease in male hormones. In his book, "Male Menopause," author, Jed Diamond said the phase "begins with hormonal, physiological and chemical changes that occur in all men generally between the ages of 40 and 55, though it can occur as early as 35 or as late as 65. Common symptoms of male menopause, according to Diamond, include needing longer to recover from injuries and illness, less endurance for physical activity, weight gain, thinning hair, sleep disturbances, irritability, and reduced interest in sex.. SO don't be so judgmental!
Feeling alone? The kids, we hope have moved out. It all seems to be happening at the same time. And while most of us, both men and women, look forward to our freedoms sans kids; it's still an enormous adjustment. Can our kids survive without us? Can I survive Menopause? The answer is to pull it together and turn this into a time to experience a new beginning.
Duck and Cover! That means pass her off to her friends. This is a great time to encourage her to seek out women's groups, new relationships and old friends going through the same thing. Let them take over the kitchen, the couch and the TV. You'll be much happier in the morning.
Keep your sense of humor It's not nice to say but a lot of the experiences in menopause can be funny... if not at the moment, certainly a week or a month later. If you can make her laugh and see the lighter side, know you are doing your part in setting the course for a beautiful sunset together. She won't laugh if it's insincere. Enough said.
(Valerie Otto has long been involved in issues of women's health and well-being. In 1995, she founded Becoming, Inc., a mail order fashion house that answers the specific needs of women who've undergone cancer treatment. Becoming, Inc. is now the largest mail order company of its kind in America. Oöna her new venture offers a natural alternative to hormonal replacement therapy for women experiencing menopause.
For more information visit www.oonausa.com)