Q1. What on earth is the Menopause? I have heard it mentioned but have no idea what it actually is?
A. The Menopause is the time in a woman’s life when her hormonal balance start to change, with the eventual result that she will no longer get any periods. This time can cause all sorts of emotional and physical changes – many of which may seem negative or, at the very least, challenging to her.
Q2. When is all this supposed to start?
A. The approach to the menopause usually starts around the age of 45 but can be as late as 55.
Q3. How long is this likely to last? It’s been going on for weeks.
A. Unfortunately, this time of transition between having periods and not having periods can last for a few years – sorry! However, symptoms can come and go over this period depending on a number of factors including lifestyle and diet.
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Q4. She used to be so calm and collected but now she is snapping at everyone even when we have done nothing wrong.
A. Don’t take this personally – the hormonal changes at this time can cause havoc with her emotions! Very often even she doesn’t know how she is feeling, so it can be a very confusing and frightening time for her too.
Many women tell us that they can’t understand why they are acting so out of character during this phase of their life. They find they are lashing out or falling into a bad mood at the drop of a hat. This is where it is really important to be supportive. She needs to know you’re on her side and that you understand she’s not necessarily feeling in control of what’s going on at the moment. Be as sympathetic and understanding as you can, and keep talking! Communication is everything.
Q5. She keeps saying that she is stressed and unhappy but I don’t see why – nothing has changed at home.
A. Believe her when she says this. Her emotions can sometimes run away with her and she is really feeling these things even if there is no apparent reason. It is very important at this time to talk openly, and not to criticise or dismiss her feelings. Knowing that you will listen and sympathise can make a huge difference to how she feels, both about you and about what’s going on.
There are plenty of stress herbs available to help. You could suggest she try something like AvenaCalm, or the stronger Stress Relief Daytime.
Q6. Our children have finally left home and I thought we would enjoy our time together, but she just seems miserable all the time and cries.
A. Children often seem to leave home just as the menopause kicks in, and women may feel that their role as ‘mum’ has disappeared. This is called Empty Nest Syndrome. Also the menopause can cause physical changes such as weight gain, older looking skin and she may suddenly feel very unattractive and unlovable – so plenty to cry about! Again, it’s important to be supportive and talk about it all. Let her know how much you are looking forward to having her company and doing more things together, to give her back some of the confidence she may have lost.
You could suggest a gentle herbal remedy called St John's Wort to help with low mood.
Q7. I just feel that she doesn’t love me anymore, and when I try to cuddle or kiss her she just pushes me away – and I can’t remember the last time we had sex.
A. Falling hormones at this time can affect her sex drive and can cause fatigue, so the last thing she is probably thinking about is sex. Also, hormonal changes can cause pain and discomfort during sex, so another reason to not feel like it. She is probably just as bewildered by these changes as you are, so again, talk about it – in a supportive way, not a criticising way.
Q8. I really cannot cope anymore. I feel like the person I married has disappeared and the atmosphere at home is horrible.
A. If her symptoms are really bad and affecting her daily life it is important for her to seen her doctor. For some women, the hormonal changes are so severe that they can cause depression, which would need medical attention. If you feel that suggesting it yourself would not get a positive response then maybe ask a close female friend or relative to talk to her about the emotional effects of hormonal changes, and encourage her to see the doctor. I often talk to women who are trying to cope on their own, when a little medical support would make all the difference. Hormones don’t care if you’re a heroine or not!
What you can do to help
Talking things through can often be the best and easiest way to help! She will appreciate the feeling of support, and it will help you to understand that many of the changes in behaviour and mood come from these changes in hormones, and your partner as not just turned crazy!
There are a number of herbs you could suggest to help. Soy isoflavones gently raise oestrogen levels to help balance out symptoms, while Sage is great for easing hot flushes and night sweats.
To find out which remedies are best for which symptoms, and other self help tips, have a look through our menopause symptoms pages.
Alternatively, point your partner towards this blog and A.Vogel Talks Menopause where she can find all the information she needs.
You may also be interested in:
About a boy – the ‘Male Menopause‘
It’s not only women who suffer the effects of changing hormones, men also go through a menopause of sorts! With testosterone levels gradually declining as a man ages, emotional and physical symptoms can occur.