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Discussing the menopause at home can seem so overwhelming we end up not bothering. Here’s why it’s important to have the conversation and some ideas to get you started.
We all know the old adage ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ and it couldn’t be truer for the menopause. But it can be hard to know how to reach out to our loved ones – whether that’s our partner, children or even friends – especially when we’re not feeling ourselves.
The following are some simple strategies from women we’ve talked to – women like you – which they used to start conversations at home and which have changed their lives for the better. We’re sure they’ll do the same for you.
It’s hard to talk confidently about an issue if you don’t understand it fully yourself – even if it is happening to you. Our My Menopause Centre website is packed with evidence-based information explained in clear terms to help you understand what you’re going through, such as our symptom checker or this handy overview of what the menopause is. Better still, why not share this information with your partner or kids? Knowledge is empowering for them too. Helping them understand what the menopause transition is, the symptoms that women experience and their impact, will help them to better relate to what you are going through and think about how they can best support you.
Stoicism is not our friend – we women can be terrible at keeping things to ourselves, concerned we’ll worry friends and family. Many women see struggling with symptoms as a personal failing and do not, therefore, want to talk about or admit symptoms they are experiencing – but this is all the more reason to talk about them. You may find out you’re not alone in how you are feeling (so that’s why your yoga mate kept cancelling coffee…).
Sharing what you’re experiencing can also help improve relationships at home – chances are your family realise you’re not yourself but aren’t sure why. You may all feel a weight lift once you start openly discussing the menopause and the symptoms you’re experiencing.
It’s only by talking that we break down taboos. Discussing the menopause might seem challenging but think of it as a way to empower the young people in our lives so they don’t have to experience what we have. The important thing is to do it on your terms – whether that’s over pizza on the sofa on a Friday night or when you’re out on a walk together, whether it’s a full-blown outpouring or sharing nuggets as they arise. This is your menopause and talking about how you want to is all that matters.
If you had a broken leg, you’d seek help – the menopause is no different. Remind yourself that what you’re going through is completely natural, that there’s nothing to be ashamed about and that the sooner you reach out, the sooner you’ll feel like yourself again.
If things aren’t great in the bedroom, the first thing is to know you’re not alone: 40-50% of women experience a loss of libido during the menopause. This is caused by a variety of factors, mainly low oestrogen and, for some women, falling levels of testosterone. These can stop you from feeling in the mood for sex in for the first place or make things uncomfortable when you’re getting intimate (think vaginal dryness). And then there are the other physical symptoms of the menopause such as feeling stressed or exhausted, hot flushes and night sweats, or weight gain, which can make us feel less like having sex – and make us feel less sexy. The most important thing is to talk to your partner – this is not your problem to fix on your own. There’s lots you can do together to rev things up like date nights to reignite intimacy or experimenting with grown-up lubes (fun and soothing at the same time). This video can help you get back on track.
It obviously takes a little courage to have these conversations so when we need a little ammunition to bolster our confidence we think of this quote from the legendary Maya Angelou:
“I am grateful to be a woman. I must have done something great in another life.”
Amen to that.
And remember, if you are having dark thoughts or feel suicidal please call your GP practice, the Samaritans, 111 or 999 straight away.
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