Is the menopause causing tension between you and your partner? Here’s how to prevent it ruining your relationship…
You’ve been with your other half for years, and you feel more in love and more stable than ever, right? Not quite.
In our 40s and 50s, we’re often juggling demanding jobs, school-age children and elderly parents, when along comes the menopause, with its super-whammy of hormonal changes.
All this may make you feel like you — and your relationship — are about to crumble.
The British Menopause Society has recently revealed that menopausal symptoms can cause a significant impact on relationships.
Women have to battle fluctuating and reducing levels of oestrogen and progesterone — and at a similar time, men also experience hormonal changes, thanks to declining testosterone levels.
Dr Shahzadi Harper specialises in the menopause and women’s health. She describes this mutual ‘change’ or ‘transition’ as the ‘couplepause’.
She says: ‘This describes the issues that relationships can experience later in life. Both partners may have to find new ways to understand each other and live together as a result of this change.’
Here’s how to protect your relationship from the couplepause.
KNOW YOUR BODY
Understanding what is going on inside in terms of hormones can be relief enough in itself.
Many women report feeling as if they are ‘losing their minds’ — which is made worse due to a lack of discussion with healthcare professionals, and partners.
It’s important to speak to your GP to learn how the menopause can impact your life — then relay this to your partner. He or she needs to fully understand it, so you are more aware as a couple.
IT’S GOOD TO TALK
Does it seem like there’s a build-up of negative tension between you and your partner? Do you feel awkward discussing certain issues? Are you finding yourself unable to handle situations involving your partner that would have been fine before?
The couplepause can test your bond, but having a frank discussion can work wonders.
Set a date to talk to your partner — whether it’s an informal chat, or a heart-to-heart with a professional, do what is best for you.
BETWEEN THE SHEETS
Both women and men are likely to experience a change in libido during this time. This, along with some menopausal changes, such as vaginal dryness, mean your love life may need a slightly different approach.
Take things slower and spend more time getting in the mood — massage is a good way of reintroducing intimacy.
Most importantly, communicate. If you aren’t open with your partner it can be difficult to trust them with the intimate issues that might be troubling you.
Above all, treat the changes you make to your sexual routine as fun, rather than a chore.
IT TAKES TWO
Changing bodies can cause both women and men to suffer a confidence blow at this stage in life, which can have a harmful impact on your relationship.
‘Middle-age spread’ is a fact of life, and both parties are likely to experience it.
But by working together, you can combat this unkind confidence-knock more effectively.
Consider exercising together and making dietary changes as a team. Spending time together, and learning what problems the other is experiencing, will help to reduce resentment, embarrassment and vulnerability.
Taking up meditation and mindfulness can help with mental wellbeing, and problems such as hot flushes and poor sleep, which can cause irritability.
ASK FOR HELP
Don’t forget that your loved ones care for you. There’s no shame in reaching out to them, or to your GP, or menopause doctor, for help.
Edited by Julia Sidwell
Dr Shahzadi Harper can be found at instagram.com/theharperclinic