If you’re entering menopause, you might be tempted to pretend like nothing is happening and withdraw from your friends and family altogether. While that urge is understandable, menopause is a very stressful time, which is why it’s more important than ever to lean on your loved ones when you’re going through menopause. Below, we outline five key groups of people whom menopausal women should reach out to. Then, we offer tips for supporting your loved one through menopause.
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Find friends in the same life stage as you.
One of the best sources of comfort and advice during menopause is having friends going through the same thing as you and sharing advice about menopause and bloating or the best incontinence products for women. If you’re lucky, these will be the same friends you already have established relationships with. However, not all women begin menopause at the same time, so if you’re the first in your friend set, consider seeking out new friendships with women around your age who are also menopausal. In fact, there might even be support groups specifically for menopausal women available through your local women’s health center or other organizations, so check those out if that’s an option.
Talk to older women in your family.
If you have a wide extended family with a lot of older women in it, this is the perfect time to reach out to them for help. This could be your mom or even your grandma, but also an aunt, older cousin, or even a sister-in-law. If they’re related to you genetically, they may be able to give you a preview of what menopause symptoms often look like in your family and what you can expect as you move into this new phase of your life.
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Reach out to your partner.
If you’re in a romantic relationship, menopause can impact it directly. Not only will you be experiencing mood swings, hot flashes, and other side effects, menopausal hormone changes can also lead to a reduced sex drive as well as vaginal dryness and tightness. It’s essential to communicate with your partner about how menopause is affecting libido and navigating any setback together. This open communication can also help prevent fights. If you lash out, your partner will know that it’s due to hormone surges and not something they did personally.
Discuss it with your kids, if appropriate.
Many women don’t enter menopause until their kids are out of the house, so discussing it with them may not be necessary. However, if you had children later in life or are starting menopause on the early side, you might be trying to parent and deal with menopause simultaneously. If your kids are old enough to understand, it might be worth talking to them about menopause and how it might affect your behavior. You never know when kids (especially small children) might take your outbursts to heart and assume they did something wrong when, in fact, you were just having a hormone surge.
Find a great doctor.
A fantastic gynecologist who understands menopause relief can be a huge ally in helping you weather the ups and downs of this new life phase. Seek out an experienced clinician who specializes in menopause and older women and who has a good bedside manner that works well for you. Many other health professionals brush off women’s health issues, so you want someone who will be in your corner instead of dismissing your struggles with menopause.
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Tips for Supporting a Loved One Through Menopause
If you’re not going through menopause, but one of your loved ones is, here are some tips to keep in mind as you support them during this time:
- Educate yourself about menopause from trusted sources. Don’t put the entire burden on your loved ones to teach you about what they’re going through.
- Be patient with them, as it can take years for menopause to end, and the symptoms may ebb and flow over time. They will likely be frustrated with themselves and the emotional and physical changes they are going through, so try to be a source of steadfast calm.
- Listen without judgment, and make it clear that you want your partner to talk to you about these things when they are comfortable doing so. However, don’t harass and pressure them to talk until they’re ready, or they may withdraw or lash out.
- Don’t make things personal. In many cases, negative mood swings and the resulting outbursts are caused by hormone surges, not because they hate the way you roll the toilet paper. Remember that this probably isn’t about you at all.
- Help boost her confidence with genuine compliments and other pick-me-ups. Many women feel self-conscious about weight gain, bloating, and other side effects of menopause. Encourage her to love herself and her body in this new phase of life.
- Reduce her stress by taking on some of the household chores she usually does, giving her a massage, or sending her on a mini-vacation. Stress can make the symptoms of menopause worse, so it’s important to help her stay calm and relaxed whenever possible.
- Encourage her to get enough sleep and set a regular sleep schedule, and support her however you can. This is especially important if you’re partners and sleep in the same room, as you could be responsible for keeping her up or waking her up in the middle of the night.
Menopause can be a tough time for both the women going through it and the loved ones supporting them. Patience, good communication, and a positive attitude can go a long way towards helping your loved one navigate menopause well.