Today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to be talking about four relationship problems that can be caused by the menopause and if there's anything you can do to help to resolve these.
Can the menopause cause relationship problems?
Absolutely. And I have talked in the past about how the menopause can affect our friendships and also how the menopause can affect our relationships with our young children or toddlers. So, this week, I thought I would focus on how the menopause can affect relationships with our partners, and I'm going to look at four of the regular questions that I am asked.
I get loads of questions on this. And a lot of women are really worried about the direction that their relationships are going in during the menopause because of how they're feeling. And, very often, it's a feeling of a sort of helplessness. So, hopefully, I can shed a little light on these.
Relationship Problem 1:
"How can I explain to my partner how I am feeling and why I'm behaving this way, whilst trying to avoid an argument? I am having trouble getting them to understand."
So, this is probably the number one query. I can't get other people to understand how I'm feeling. It's a really difficult one because, very often, we don't know how we are feeling ourselves.
Emotional aspects in the menopause, they can be very fleeting. You can just get the odd occasion when you feel anger, or irritability, or impatience. But other emotional aspects like anxiety and low mood can last for, you know, sometimes months right through the menopause. So it can be very difficult for your other half to understand why suddenly you're behaving in specific ways when, before, you might have been quite a calm and collected person.
This is a situation where you need to talk to them. You need to get them to understand, and it's very frustrating. You know, I find even in this day and age that so many partners just think it's the hormones, it's another one of these monthly things. And the partners are not really understanding how deep these emotional issues can be.
So, maybe this is where you need to get away from the home environment, maybe go out for a walk, go out for a day trip, or go out for an evening meal. And just try and explain as much as you can how you feel, that your hormones are changing and this is bringing up a whole different level of emotional issues for you.
And all you want is someone to help support you even if they really don't understand that much about what's going on with you. It's important to have someone in your corner who is going to maybe just give you a cuddle and make you a cup of tea when you're crying your eyes out or feeling really angry, rather than reacting negatively which then becomes a vicious circle where irritability and anger just build up.
So, this is one of these situations where, if you can talk to that person, then really try and do so.
The other thing you can do is download my free e-book which goes through just about all the basics of the menopause – and maybe just ask them to read through it if you feel that you really can't sit down with them and explain how you're feeling.
I've had lots of lovely feedback from ladies who have given it to their partners and they have come back to me and said that it's made a huge difference because their partners have suddenly realised just how hard it is and how much they're struggling through this on their own.
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Relationship Problem 2:
"Can the menopause make you feel like you're falling out of love?"
Yes, it can. So, this is a really interesting aspect of the menopause.
We have a hormone called oxytocin, and it's called your cuddle hormone or your love hormone. Your body is swamped with it when you give birth so that you automatically fall in love with your baby. Having a really good physical relationship with your partner very often keeps the oxytocin topped up, which means that you keep your feelings of love, comfort, and joy with that person going.
The problem here is that there seems to be a link between oestrogen falling and your oxytocin falling so that there seems to be a direct link between these two hormones. So, as your oestrogen falls, the levels of your love and cuddle hormone decreases as well.
And some women find that, you know, they suddenly realise the partner they've been with for a long time no longer floats their boats or makes them happy. Some women find that, suddenly, it's like having the blinkers taken off. And they view their relationship in a completely different way.
The thing about this one is not to do anything rash. I've had women who've said they've basically woken up one morning, decided that's it, and they have literally walked away from their relationship without giving it much thought. But, if you're in this situation, very often, this is part and parcel of falling oestrogen and it might end up resolving itself.
So, all I would say in this situation is have a good think before you do anything. And don't do anything rash because, you know, some women have come back afterwards and said that they wish they hadn't have acted quite so quickly. It's a difficult situation but just be really careful with this one.
Relationship Problem 3:
"I'm going through the menopause and I have totally and utterly lost interest in sex, or even cuddles, or kisses. Unfortunately, my partner hasn't and this is causing conflict. And they just think that I don't love them anymore. I do but I just don't want the sex."
This is another huge one, and it can cause a whole raft of problems here. In the menopause, when your oestrogen falls, that decreases your libido anyway, so you might not feel like intercourse as often as before.
You've also got other things going on, too. If you are getting vaginal dryness or vaginal discomfort, then, you know, the last thing you want is to have sex because it just seems so very, very unappealing here.
Also, if you're fatigued, you know, if you're working, if you're busy then, again, the last thing at night you want is action between the sheets. So, again, this is another one here where there needs to be talking and there needs to be some understanding by your partner that things are very difficult for you in this situation
If it's anything to do with things like vaginal dryness or vaginal discomfort, these are very physical things and they can be sorted. You can look at supplements such as sea buckthorn oil. It's fabulous for vaginal dryness. If you're getting pain during intercourse, then the first thing here is do get that checked out by the doctor.
There can be a lot of issues such as a prolapse, such as a vaginal infection, and the vaginal wall can end up thinning and losing its elasticity, which could cause a lot of discomfort here, too.
So, there are ways and means around this, but it's a question of just talking this through with your partner to try and come up with some kind of compromise.
I know some ladies tell me that they've started from scratch again and they start going on date nights. So, instead of your partner asking you at teatime for sex, you can look at having a date night which gives you the whole week to prepare, so there's a lot of anticipation for you. And, when you're planning something out of the family home, sometimes that can make all the difference.
So, it's worth trying just going back to courting and going back to basics.
Relationship Problem 4:
"My mood swings and irritability are becoming so unbearable - my partner is threatening to leave just because they can't cope with it."
This is another really difficult one because they don't understand why you're being like that. And, very often, they think it's directed at them when, really, it's all to do with the fact that your hormones are changing and your emotional control can decrease, and therefore you can get angry and irritable a lot quicker.
You can look at some kinds of calming remedies. Our Stress Relief Daytime is good for general stress and anxiety. Remember the magnesium. And remember the water because dehydration will make irritability and anger a lot worse as well. You can look at balancing the hormones with products such as our Menopause Support.
You might find that your emotions are getting seriously out of control, and I've had women who've told me that they have basically ended up being physically angry with their partners and they've been utterly mortified because they just couldn't control themselves. If it's getting to the point where it is really affecting your daily life with your partner, or even at work, or with your friends, then please see your doctor. Because, sometimes, the emotional imbalance can be so great that this is not something that over-the-counter remedies can help.
So, it's important to know when to ask for help, and don't wait with this one. Don't put up with it. Don't make your partner have to put up with it, either. Maybe even work together at going to see your doctor to see if there's something that they can help you with.
So, I hope you found this one interesting. If any of you have experienced any of these issues and have resolved them, please let us know.
It's great to share these things because there are many, many women out there who are probably in the same boat as yourself and sharing makes things that much easier.