Going through menopause can be turbulent for any woman, but it can also be a very scary time for men as they see the woman they love morphing into some angry stranger!
Understanding is key – women who have supportive partners are more likely to have a smoother ride through peri-menopause. If the man in your life is struggling to understand your strange behaviour lately, you may want to leave this men's guide to menopause lying around…
Questions from men
Here are some of the most common questions we get from the husbands, partners and male friends of the women we are helping in the clinic.
1. What the hell has happened to my wife/girlfriend?
If it seems that she has been kidnapped by aliens and replaced with someone you hardly know, then read on! From the age of around 35, a woman's hormones start to decline as her ovaries and egg production slow down and come to an end. This period is known as the peri-menopause, the years of fluctuating hormones leading up to the actual menopause when her periods stop completely. Some women sail through this time, but for others, it can be a real struggle.
2. Did you say it can start in your 30's?!
Yes, hormone changes can start in a woman's 30's (sometimes earlier) so it's important to be aware of that and to seek help as soon as she starts getting symptoms.
3. She used to love being with me, now it feels like she wants to kill me!
The first hormone to decline is progesterone. This can cause sleep issues (making her more tired and irritable), anxiety, mood swings and stress. She might also have increased PMS – heavy periods, cramping, bloating. Her oestrogen levels are also fluctuating, and this can affect her brain neurotransmitters causing her to feel irritable, emotional, anxious and angry with the world. It’s not personal and she can’t help it, but you are likely to be the first in the firing line. Try to be patient and listen to her. Encourage her to talk about it and ask her what you can do to help. And remember, this won’t last forever, and definitely don’t tell her to CALM DOWN – this could end badly!
4. She is waking up in the night sweating, and insists on getting up and changing the sheets! This wakes me up too and I’m feeling more and more exhausted.
When her oestrogen levels fluctuate, it can mess with her body thermostat and she can get hot flushes and night sweats. These are horrible to experience, especially when you are in public, and frustrating at night when they wake you both up. There are some natural remedies she can try, which could reduce the frequency. Get her some mini fans to carry around, and maybe a larger one to keep by the bed. It’s a good way to cool down quickly. Stress makes hot flushes worse, so get her to try some deep breathing and other stress reduction techniques. And by the way, if you're feeling exhausted by it all, just imagine how she's feeling!
5. I feel like she doesn’t fancy me anymore, she might even have someone else. Our sex life is non-existent.
It's not you she doesn’t fancy, it’s the act itself. Hormone imbalances are exhausting – so she just wants to collapse at night. Low oestrogen and testosterone can decrease sex drive, and also sometimes make sex painful due to dryness. There are many natural remedies for this, but also remember that this is just a phase and it will pass. She may also have gained weight or got some wrinkles, which might make her feel unattractive. You will need to make an extra effort to be romantic and reassure her that she is still beautiful. She will more than likely be feeling guilty and sad that the physical intimacy is missing, so try to be patient. Cuddle her a lot and tell her how attractive she is. This may do the trick, but if not, let it go and don’t make her feel guilty.
6. She is always anxious and worried about everything. It feels like she has lost the plot.
Imagine feeling like you have lost your identity, feeling ill at ease in your own body, hating the person you’re turning into, but not being able to do a damn thing about it? Wouldn’t that make you a bit jittery? She may be scared and confused, and terrified that this will last forever. And that translates into feelings of fear and anxiety about everything else, including the possibility that you will run out of patience and leave her. This is very common and you can support her with reassurance, and encourage her to talk about what’s bothering her. Make sure she does some stress management each day (see below) and give her some dark chocolate (over 70%) – always good for improving mood and reducing stress (it's scientifically proven!).
What else will help?
All women go through it to various degrees, but helping and encouraging her with some diet and lifestyle tweaks can be really effective;
Hormones respond very well to the right foods. It is so important to keep blood sugar balanced by avoiding refined carbohydrates, sugar, alcohol and caffeine. Try encouraging her to add in these hormone friendly foods;
- 2-3 portions of phytoestrogens a day – these are plant-like oestrogens that help the body to balance oestrogen levels during menopause. These include organic soy foods (soy milk, soy yoghurt, tofu, edamame beans), flaxseeds, chickpeas, lentils.
- A portion of broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, watercress or rocket (any cruciferous vegetable) every day can help to balance oestrogen levels by supporting detoxification, as well as supply hormone-balancing nutrients
- Add some Maca to your protein shake – it is an ancient food from Peru that can help with hormone balancing (I like this one)
- Eat some good fats every day – avocadoes, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, organic meat, full-fat dairy and eggs – can help hormones function properly. Avoid all low fat and diet products as they often contain high amounts of sugar or artificial sweeteners
- Encourage reducing her alcohol intake – do it with her!
High stress levels can make symptoms a lot worse. This is because cortisol can imbalance all the other hormones. Support her with any of these stress management tips;
- Deep belly breathing twice a day and again when anxious
- Relaxation App, music, mindfulness or meditation – often really helpful at bedtime. I like Pzizz, Headspace and Calm Apps.
- Hobbies – gardening, cooking, socializing with friends
- Regular massage
- Exercise – walking, dancing, yoga, pilates, swimming
There are a myriad of supplements aimed at women with menopausal symptoms. Many of the cheap ones are not going to be helpful (they have low nutrients and too many fillers). It is worth looking for good quality brands, a few of which I have highlighted.
- A quality multivitamin with good levels of active B vitamins – use code NJW010 for a 10% discount at the Natural Dispensary.
Check out my Collection at Live Better With Menopause for the following brands;
- Magnesium (for adrenals, energy, liver)
- Vitamin D3 with K2 (for immune support)
- Femmenessence MacaLife or MacaPause (for energy, libido, bones, hot flushes)
- Omega 7 Sea Buckthorn Oil (for vaginal dryness)
- Promensil (not if taking HRT)
Please get her to check with her Dr or health professional before taking any new supplements if she is on medication or has a health condition.
It's so important if symptoms persist to encourage her to see a knowledgable doctor or a specialised health practitioner, who can get her hormones tested and devise a personalised plan. Every woman is different and has different reactions, symptoms and needs during this time. Seeing someone who knows and understands what she is going through is often a huge relief.
If you'd like more information or advice, download your FREE Hormone Balancing Guide.