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Talking About Menopause With Friends and Family

26.05.2016

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Menopause can be a stressful and challenging event in any woman’s life, and even though it’s completely natural, some people find it hard to talk about with others.

However, just like all important things in life, opening up about menopause is extremely important to finding support – you need to know you’re not going through it alone. Many other people are experiencing hormonal changes, just like you.

A strong support network will make the menopause rollercoaster seem much more bearable for you and for those around you.

Read this step by step guide to learn about all the things you should cover when talking to your family about what’s going on.

Step 1: Get educated about menopause

Telling people in your family about menopause is a talk you should have after you’ve done your research and gone to the doctor. In order to explain others what’s going on in a effective manner, you need to understand it first.

Only after you are fully informed should you talk to people about it, and try to cover as much as you can. Explain all possible symptoms, even if you’re not experiencing them: it’ll help others who know nothing about menopause to understand the broader picture.

Step 2: Think about how your symptoms may impact others around you

Menopause symptoms may affect you physically and emotionally, but your family and friends will also be affected, as they are the ones who coexist around you. You may snap at your kids, lose your patience with your partner or parents, argue with teenagers, or be distant with your siblings.

Sit down and make a list of the things you have said that may have upset other people. This can be helpful for when you talk to them, so you can address problems specifically, and provide an explanation for your actions.

Remember, your family cannot support you if they don’t know what’s going on. They might think you’re being distant, when in reality you’re tired because you had terrible hot flushes during the night, and you just need a good rest.

A good way to avoid impacting others could be to announce your mood and possibly explain why. Maybe tell your friend that you love her, but you’re in a terrible mood to go to the movies. That way she won’t be offended and will better understand the situation.

Step 3: Honesty is the best policy

During menopause you will need to step up your honesty game. Answers like “I’m fine” or “nothing is wrong” just won’t cut it. You hormones are fluctuating like never before, hot flushes come and go, insomnia kicks in, and anxiety may be around the corner. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, or any others, then you’re not “fine”.

What you’re going through is normal, but not pleasant. So don’t act like it is – others will see right through you. Those around you will realise you’re not OK, and they will feel rejected when you refuse to be transparent and talk about what’s troubling you, which will only lead to further frustration.

All of that can be avoided if you’re honest, and talk about what’s going on. If you have a partner, then it’s crucial you keep them in the loop and be very direct; especially when it comes to sex.

Talking about vaginal dryness or loss of libido may not be the easiest conversation topic in the world, but if left unsaid, these issues can be the ones that generate the most confusion and discord than any others. It’s important for your partner not to take it personally or feel it’s their fault if you’ve been more distant or not sexually active, because the reason behind it is purely hormonal. Sex can be painful in some cases, as lower oestrogen levels can affect vaginal tissues negatively.

When being open with your partner, you can discuss the possibility of using lubricants to aid vaginal dryness, as well as scheduling special dates for sex. The desire to have sexual intercourse may not come naturally, but you’ll be surprised how quickly your libido comes back with foreplay!

Step 4: Talk about what you’re physically and emotionally going through

Maybe the emotional symptoms, rather than the physical, will be easier for you to talk about out loud – or vice versa. Either way, you have to be transparent about both, as they are equally important. Anxiety, depression, lack of motivation, aggressiveness, fatigue, irritability, tension and mood changes are some of the emotional symptoms many women experience, and they just as important as the physical ones.

You may feel vulnerable while talking about these, but make the effort. Even if you don’t know where to start, push yourself. Remember, every woman in the world goes through this, and by the end of the conversation, you won’t be taking all the burden on your own.

Step five: Don’t be sorry

Own it. Don’t feel shy and do not apologise – it’s just nature’s way. Try to explain it the best you can to those around you, and know you’ll be a stronger woman than you were before after dealing with menopause.