Okay gentlemen, this article is just as much for you as it is for her. Is your spouse or girlfriend more emotional than normal? Does she cry more easily, and get moody more often? Is she not as interested in the bedroom like she was when you first met? Chances are she's going through menopause. Menopause occurs in women typically between 45 and 50 years of age. Menopause is simply the stopping of menstruation. At this time in a womans life she is no longer able to become pregnant. Menopause comes from the greek word mens, meaning monthly and the word pausis, meaning cessation.

     For some women the experience can be overwhelming while other women rarely notice any symptoms. But women are not the only ones who feel the effects of menopause, their spouses do too. When a woman starts crying for no reason, most times the man doesn't understand what is going on. This could lead to frustration on his part and a lack of compassion. Why? Because he really doesn't know how menopause affects a woman mentally and physically. In his mind she's just being overly sensitive and he doesn't know why. If she can't explain it, how will he understand what she is going through?

     Perimenopause happens 3 to 5 years around the time of menopause and before the last menstruation. Menopause is a very real condition. It is not something that is made up in her mind. The symptoms are real. Some early symptoms could involve feeling irritable and not wanting to be touched. I refer to those as "screaming mimi's." It's like having pent-up energy you can't get rid of. It almost feels like you are loosing your mind. There are roughly 35 symptoms of menopause:

  • Hot flashes, night sweats, clammy feeling, cold flashes, flushes. Hot flashes are brought on by a decrease in ovarian estrogen production.
  • Rapid heartbeat. Women can also experience heart palpitations, skipped heartbeats and irregular heartbeats.
  • Irritability. This too is hormone induced. A woman can suddenly react to situations in a more angry way than what her personality is usually like. This can, at times, feel like she is out of control.
  • Mood swings and sudden tears. Mood swings can introduce themselves from being happy one moment and depressed the next. She may, out of the blue have sudden bouts of crying when nothing has occurred to cause it. Extreme emotions are due to hormone imbalance. Having anxiety, depression, and panic attacks are not uncommon during menopause especially with the onset of hot flashes.
  • Trouble Sleeping. Two main reasons for lack of sleep include hot flashes and insomnia. Without proper sleep, a woman will also feel anxious and irritable.
  • Irregular periods. Shorter or heavier periods occur. At times there will be symptoms of a period beginning, but it does not come.
  • Loss of libido (sex drive). Although not every woman will feel the loss of sex drive, there are women who, because of the symptoms of menopause don't feel well and sex is the last thing she is thinking of.
  • Dry Vagina. As the hormones continue to change, dryness results, including in the vagina resulting in painful intercourse.
  • Crashing fatigue. Because of the side effect of all the symptoms and general exhaustion a woman can become fatigued more easily.
  • Anxiety and feeling ill at ease. This is one of the major complaints of menopause
  • Feelings of dread, apprehension and doom. Moving from one phase of a womans life into the next phase can have a woman wondering what is in store next.
  • Difficulty concentrating, disorientation, mental confusion.
  • Disturbing memory lapses.
  • Incontinence. Loss of urine when laughing or sneezing
  • Itchy, crawly skin. Feeling of ants crawling on the skin
  • Aching, sore joints, muscles and tendons
  • Increased tension in muscles.
  • Breast tenderness.
  • Headache change.
  • Gastrointestinal distress, indigestion, flatulence, gas pain, nausea.
  • Sudden bouts of bloat. Water retention and bloating are common problems during menopause.
  • Depression. The inability to cope with the symptoms are overwhelming.
  • Exacerbation of any existing conditions. Conditions women had before entering perimenopause become worse during the transition.
  • Increase in allergies. Women who have suffered allergies before menopausal years develop worse allergies, and may develop respiratory problems for the first time. Women can develop coughing, wheezing and sinus problems.
  • Weight gain. Weight starts shifting and is now around the waist and thighs.
  • Hair loss or thinning, added facial hair. Pubic hair is lost during menopause and facial hair is grown, especially in the chin area.
  • Changes in body odor.
  • Electric shock sensation under the skin and in the head. Due to fluctuating hormones and nerve endings, a womans body can experience sensations similar to buzzing sensations or an electrical shock.
  • Tingling in the extremities.
  • Gum problems, increased bleeding. Keeping teeth brushed on a regular basis can help.
  • Burning tongue
  • Osteoporosis. Thinning of the bones causing them to become brittle
  • Brittle fingernails.
  • Tinnitus. ringing in ears
  • Dizziness, light-headedness, occasional loss of balance

     One thing to remember ladies while you're going through your transition, he is not the enemy. And gentlemen, she is not possessed, even though at times it may seem like that. Support each other with love and patience. Talk about your feelings openly with one another. Gentlemen, you can't fix what is going on with her, but you can be a good listener and offer support. If she appears tired or overwhelmed with the day, offer to lighten the load so she can take a nap.  Clean the house and make the dinner. If you have children, take them to the park. If she seems more irritated then normal, remember it is a hormonal imbalance that may be causing it. Try to be less judgemental and more understanding.

Ladies, when your symptoms are not as strong, remind him of how much he means to you and make a special night just for the two of you. If you feel your symptoms are unbearable, talk with your doctor about medications that can offer relief.

Embrace the changes ahead and remember to love your spouse through menopause.