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Exercising together as a couple will not only help to mitigate the symptoms of menopause, but also keep both partners healthy and strengthen their bond. — AFP

Men, here’s how to support your woman through menopause

The natural biological changes a female’s body goes through are often treated as taboo subjects, even among women themselves.

Just think of the many euphemisms that are used for periods, e.g. time of the month, Auntie Flo, the curse, on the rag, crimson tide and monthly friend, among others. There are fewer euphemisms for menopause, with “The Change” and “the big M” probably being among the most popular.

And this is a reflection of how menopause is even less talked about than periods. It can be a difficult period for women to undergo physically, mentally and emotionally, and support from those around them could be invaluable.

We’ve already covered the basics like symptoms and what to expect during menopause, as well as what you can do to mitigate those symptoms. Now let’s talk about how your partners can support you during this challenging time in your life.

What men can do

If a woman experiencing menopause doesn’t always know how to handle her symptoms, imagine how confused a spouse will feel, not knowing how to provide support. To a male partner, not understanding what menopause is like is just one piece of the puzzle.

Because they feel that they are “unable to do anything”, they often prefer to just keep quiet and stay out of their woman’s way. But this approach usually makes things worse. Decreasing levels of certain hormones do trigger negative feelings, but it goes deeper than that.

These negative emotions bring insecurities to the surface, such as feeling unattractive because age and weight gain have caught up. For the partners of women going through menopause, gaining a better understanding of menopause and why the symptoms develop will help you to provide more meaningful support to your partner.

So, guys, here is some advice for maintaining healthy relationships with the woman in your life, especially during menopause:

Communicate patiently

Chronic changes in mood distract from one’s daily life, work and relationships. Trust your partner when she says that she’s “unable to control herself” and be patient.

Menopause is not a “problem” one needs to get over, but a change in life that is inevitable for women. Put yourself in your spouse’s shoes and imagine what it must be like not to have full control of your moods.

Exercise together

One easy and practical way to support your partner is by getting healthy together. It will help them stay healthy, improve their mood, and change how they feel about themselves. You can do this with meals too.

Plan a healthy diet that targets weight loss and do it together. Instead of eating separate diets, share the experience as another way to bond in this new phase of your lives.

Be patient about sex

Many women experience a drop in libido, along with vaginal dryness that can make it uncomfortable to have sex. This is because of the lowered levels of oestrogen and testosterone hormones that occur during menopause.

As her partner, you can be supportive by being understanding and not taking it personally if she’s not in the mood. Her libido will return in time, so just be patient.

Show love and appreciation

The insecurities that women go through during menopause aren’t just a physiological response towards hormonal changes. Some may feel a sense of loss that they can no longer get pregnant. Others struggle with weight gain, discomfort due to hot flashes, inability to sleep and lack of libido.

These changes can take a toll on your partner’s self-confidence. But you can make a difference by reminding her of why she’s special in your life. Compliment her – not just when she looks great, but also for her admirable traits as a wife, a mother and/or a career woman. Be sincere about it, of course!

Be patient

Remember, menopause doesn’t last. As a supportive partner, pay attention, ask questions, and remind yourself that the challenges of menopause involve the both of you as a couple.

The first few years of menopause are the most difficult, but when she becomes used to her symptoms, you will know what to expect and how to deal with it. Menopause can last for as long as eight to 10 years, but it will subside in time.

Things will return to normal, and your patience and support won’t go unnoticed. It will strengthen your relationship and you’ll be better off as a couple in your golden years.

By Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar
Published in Star Newspaper, 04 Oct 2021

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