Perimenopause and menopause can be a difficult time for the individual struggling with troublesome symptoms and can leave them feeling isolated, scared and alone, but how does it affect the rest of the family and what can they do to help?
Natural menopause and perimenopause can occur at a point in an individual’s life when they may be reaching a peak in their career, their children may be reaching their teens and they may have older/elderly parents or family members they care for. They may be juggling many roles and leading busy lives when things start to become more challenging. During this time, the support of family members plays a crucial role in helping women cope with the changes and maintain their overall well-being.
If you or your partner have access to myTamarin menopause support, book in a 1-1 consultation with a menopause nurse to educate yourself on supporting family members in the best way.
The impact of menopause symptoms on relationships
The hormonal imbalance that happens in menopause may result in the individual becoming short-tempered; forgetful; overly emotional and constantly hot and sweaty. This can be confusing for the individual and all those around them. Often the fear is early onset Dementia as the individual transforms from an organised, super-woman to someone who lacks the confidence to live their daily lives.
Common problems experienced during this life event can include increased arguments with partners and/or children; reduced intimacy due to vaginal dryness and loss of libido. Without support and adequate intervention, the result can be catastrophic leading to relationship breakdown and/or suicidal ideation, so what can be done to prevent this?
How can family members support menopause?
Firstly, it is vital the individual identifies they are struggling with the changes and speak to a healthcare professional about their symptoms. However, they may not even realise they are struggling, so it may fall to the partner, siblings, children, etc to open discussions about the change in character and behaviour.
Arm yourself with information - family members or friends can get help and support from myTamarin menopause resources, the NHS website, British Menopause Society, Womens’ Health Concern. Family members can also book a 1-1 with a myTamarin menopause specialist to discuss support methods.
Secondly, ensure an open, non-judgmental environment where the individual can express her/their frustrations, cry openly and talk about their fears and worries. Provide a shoulder to cry on but mostly, just listen.
Thirdly, support and join her/them with lifestyle changes – a healthy diet, increased exercise programme, reduced alcohol and caffeine intake and stopping smoking will help improve menopause symptoms but will also help the overall health and wellbeing of the entire family.
Ask her/them what they need from you and how you can help; do not trivialise symptoms, hot flushes, urinary symptoms and creaking joints may provide some light entertainment but not when you are the one experiencing them.
Lastly, take some of the responsibilities off her/them, help with chores, etc; set reminders for appointments, etc and offer massages for sore muscles! Overall, ensure full understanding and remember she/they are still the same person just going through a difficult time.
Support from family members during the menopausal transition can make a significant difference in a woman's experience. By educating yourself, listening empathetically, providing emotional support, and assisting with practical needs, you can help your family member navigate this transformative phase more smoothly.
In the second article in our Menopause and Chronic Conditions series, Moira looks into managing Diabetes when you are going through Menopause.Read post