“It’s never too late -never too late to start over, never too late to be happy.” —Jane Fonda
Most of us believe that being HAPPY is our goal in life, and we often define our happiness in terms of our relationships. While some fortunate women sail through peri-menopause into menopause with few symptoms or ill effects, many of us DO NOT! Happiness seems elusive when you do not feel like yourself, and this affects how we are in our relationship with our partner, husband, or significant other.
The average age of menopause is 51, which is not so old these days. You could easily have many happy and healthy decades ahead of you and in fact, research suggests that happiness typically increases as we age. Why then, is this time in our lives often so challenging for our relationships?
Menopause affects all of our relationships: those with our husbands or partners, as well as with our children, parents, friends, and colleagues in both positive and sometimes negative ways. There are many positives. Freedom from pregnancy brings sexual liberation, financial freedom and freedom from child-rearing responsibilities bring time for intimacy, time for nurturing friendships, new and old hobbies, and time to explore sexually. Whether married or single, most boomers report they still want to have happy, sexual and intimate relationships. They also admit that many of them do not.
Many women experience the common symptoms of menopause – irritability, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, low libido, ‘brain fog,’ and vaginal dryness. These symptoms can make any and ALL relationships challenging. It is difficult to be loving, sexual, kind, and patient in the throes of hot flashes, anger, exhaustion, depression all while not feeling like yourself anymore. To make matters worse, many physicians prescribe the usual RX cocktail consisting of Ativan and Prozac which may make you numb, but may not help you live the life that you want at this age!
There are solutions. Here is a list of my best and most useful tips to help you sail (even at half-mast!) into menopause with a healthy and happy relationship intact or perhaps even better than ever!
- Educate yourself on the hormonal changes you are going through, and then educate your loved ones so they understand. You are your own best health advocate and as such, you owe it to yourself to be informed. Put yourself in the driver’s seat: this will help you feel more in control of YOU even when you do not always recognize yourself.
- Humour: find it, use it and spread it around! Sometimes laughing together at the changes you are both experiencing helps.
- Try new sexual positions if you are having more aches, pains, and reduced mobility. Be playful and have some fun! Accommodations can make you more creative. Use femMED’s Libido to enhance arousal, increase lubrication, and sexual response.
- Be more emotionally intimate: listen to each other, touch with affection, kiss more, share music or heartfelt notes. Appreciate your love and connection.
- Make healthy choices to support hormone balance using supplements and good nutrition. I have used personally and recommended to many clients the Hormonal Balance for PMS and peri-menopausal symptoms and absolutely love the ingredients in Menopause Relief. All the natural ingredients I want to see in a Menopause supplement are contained in this product. It works for many women to help them manage night sweats, hot flashes, and mood swings. Good quality amino acids (protein) will help balance your serotonin and dopamine levels in your brain. They are our “feel-good” neurotransmitters.
- Get support from close friendships. Women provide a safe and nurturing place to discuss changes occurring. Women also love to share good information with each other.
- Practice loving kindness to yourself and to your partner. “Let it be” – some things must just be let go of. In this vein, be clear and non-judgemental in your communication with your sweetheart about the things that really matter.
- Remember that intimacy is THE glue that holds relationships together; however, this is not just wild, crazy sex on the kitchen counter. It is also cuddling, holding hands, kissing and being affectionate. Oxytocin is our bonding love hormone and all of these things bring it on!
Remember Buddha’s words: “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and attention. Be happy and help others be happy”. Menopause is simply a natural and normal phase all women will go through. Let’s sail through it being our best!
Camille Lawson RN, BA, MEd. March 2014