War may be hell, but menopause can’t be far behind in its havoc. There are landmines all over the ground and floating out there in the air just waiting quietly for some foolish man to blunder right over or into them and then BOOM! I’ve made every one of the stupid mistakes possible, and while I like to think I’ve learned a thing or two, I’m still pretty much in early bootcamp when it comes to menopausal management.

Menopause Three

Millions of women baby boomers are now in the midst of, or are shortly about to enter their next stage of life change. MENOPAUSE. Physically, and emotionally it’s kind of a crappy time for a woman as inner hormonal battles surge and ebb bringing her reproductive store to its final closeout sale. It’s a little bit like when Meg Ryan turns out the lights in her little bookstore for the last time in “You’ve Got Mail”…it’s a bittersweet time with memories of hope and promise, joy and sorrow.  Male or female, we all know it’s coming, we’ve known it for decades, but like death, it always seems to be a way off in the distance and something that can easily be ignored indefinitely.

I suppose this is best as there really isn’t a thing that can be done to prepare for its arrival. There are no Menopausal Fallout Shelters! It’s not the same as having a baby where you prepare a special room that you decorate and outfit with closets and drawers full of new baby clothes. In menopause, you don’t invite your friends over and squeal and giggle about the flash bloody floods you’re having. You don’t  receive pretty pink- and blue-wrapped gifts of ice packs and fans to dispel the hot flashes. No… more like a surprise party, menopause just lurks and then either creeps up stealthily or pounces, leaving the guest of honour in flush-faced bliss and joy!

And why it waits until the late 40’s to early 50’s to even happen is a profound mystery. Historically through the millennia, women didn’t even live that long, so why bother having a change at all. In today’s world, no woman wanting a healthy child is likely to wait until the 5th decade is upon her. Besides, who would have the energy to raise a little one in their fifties and sixties. I’m in my early 50’s, and I have a hard time staying awake past 8 pm. I VOTE that if there needs to be a menopause, lets bring it on by the late 30’s or early 40’s. At the very least it would save us poor men an awful lot of unnecessary vasectomies.

Going back to the beginning of this story, menopause is like war because of the disruption that it brings down upon not only the woman affected but also those nearby the affected female soul. And like a war where the shell-shocked man returns to a home where no one will ever understand the horrors and traumas of his bloody experience, what man will ever comprehend the tumult going on within a menopausal woman.

Any so-called normal biological process that potentially leads to the following list of symptoms is something to be respected, and perhaps feared.

 

Common Symptoms

1.Hot Flashes

2. Night Sweats

3. Irregular Periods/Flash Floods

4. Loss of Libido

5. Vaginal Dryness

6. Mood Swings

7. Fatigue

8. Hair Loss

9. Sleep Disorders

10. Difficult Concentrating

11. Memory Lapses

12. Dizziness

13. Weight Gain

14. Incontinence

15. Bloating

16. Allergies

17. Brittle Nails

18. Changes in Odor

19. Irregular Heartbeat

20. Depression

21. Anxiety

22. Irritability

23. Panic Disorder

Pains

24. Breast Pain

25. Headaches

26. Joint Pain

27. Burning Tongue

28. Electric Shocks

29. Digestive Problems

30. Gum Problems

31. Muscle Tension

32. Itchy Skin

33. Tingling Extremities

Others

34. Osteoporosis

The list is lengthy and is very unfortunate and uncomfortable for a woman in the throws of “the change”.  Just getting through a day has got to be a challenge with a couple of those symptom babies to deal with. And even more sad is that it can go on like this for years and years.  I have a sister-in-law who says it has been a part of her life for 10 years now- a whole DECADE. Of course, I heard this second-hand because she was just too moody and irritable to have the discussion directly. I know when to keep my mouth closed…sometimes!

Drinking your way through menopause...

(Maybe this is the solution)

But, of course, as a man, I most fear and dread symptoms  4, 6, and 22. Number 4 (Loss of Libido) is strictly a man’s physical, “I want it all the time” complaint from the other side of the fence. The man dealing with a woman’s loss of libido is going to have his own form of menopause-related symptoms that are not only physical but mentally traumatic too. All men say they love a hot woman in bed, and menopause is one time in life they are almost assured of having that wish come true over and over and over. Hot, sweaty sex is one thing, but mingling with an already-sweaty-clammy partner does some weird and not-so-wonderful things to the male libido too.

Which brings us to the most male-centrically feared aspects of menopause. Numbers 6 (Mood Swings) and 22 (Irritability)…Fears that anything said or done can and likely will result in cold relations, all for no apparent reason.

(Irritable?? You bet!)

So, for men, I suggest the following keys to survival through these tumultuous years:

  •  Irritable moods that strike without warning are a hazard to be walked, no…run away from, as quickly, and as quietly as possible. This is a good time of life for male partners to take up jogging as a hobby and life-preserver. I have never seen an irritable mood improved with ANYONE by trying to talk your way  past. Humour has a way of backfiring in these circumstances  and makes the dog house scenario a more likely outcome…proceed with great caution!
  • Mood swings-I hesitate to suggest- are something that men have become accustomed to in their day-to-day relationships with the woman they wake to in the morning. Women are highly complex beings and just dealing with the normal everyday surges of life and family matters can be exhausting, physically and emotionally. Just knowing that every study going indicates that women tend to shoulder more of family responsibilities- studies are hardly necessary to pinpoint the obvious!– should suggest SUPPORTIVE and understanding behaviour. This is where a quietly nodding, listening approach and sometimes some light massage to her neck can go a long way. Otherwise the light massage on YOUR neck might be more like a DEATH GRIP!

At the beginning of this blog I suggested that menopause might be compared to war but in truth, I don’t think it is. It’s not US vs. THEM. There are no combatants, no wanton destruction, no helpless orphans…hopefully only short-term victims. And the end result is a time of life that many women describe to me as their best years of health and self-confidence with time and energy in spades (in a future blog, I’ll be talking about the health issues of women and men as they age). The store may be closed, but the bar is just opening and last call is still hours away!

Is Post-Menopause really THIS Fun?

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