Our partners are often the ones we turn to in times of need, but what about when we’re going through the menopause? In a recent nurture survey* nearly a quarter of women aged 45 and over stated they did not feel comfortable discussing this topic with either their partner or their family. While this indicates that some women may be opening up and communicating with their partners, others still find it a struggle. Our recent roundtable event chaired by Loose Women host Andrea McLean helped broach this subject and explore why these conversations don’t always flow naturally…
Modern world, modern man?
While we’d all like to think that the stereotype of men being afraid of anything to do with female-only matters (such as periods, peri-menopausal and menopausal symptoms) has disappeared, is it still lingering in the 21st century?
While some of the women at the roundtable event admitted that they never or rarely discussed the menopause with their partners, surprisingly they felt they could be a lot more open with their sons. One woman admitted that sometimes she was even a bit too honest with her son but believed it was important to educate her children about this topic.
Speaking to your son about the menopause may not be top of your priority list but if attitudes are to change, maybe this is the solution. The women all agreed that it was a case of educating those around us about how we’re feeling in order for them to empathise with us. With any luck, the next generation of men will be more empathetic when it comes to both emotional and physical symptoms.
Most of the women described their husbands as ‘old-fashioned’ or ‘old school’ when it came to their emotions and avoided discussing them at all costs. Yet, this generation should not all be tarred with the same brush! On the other hand a few of the women described their husbands as caring and understanding.
Andrea was keen to establish whether the lines between being intelligent and emotionally intelligent were blurring however the results were mixed. Despite some of the women labelling their partners as “not very emotionally sensitive” and “not in touch with his feelings”, there was a consensus that this was down to men either not understanding or not being interested as it is does not happen to them. One women captured this sentiment perfectly:
“I don’t think they’re embarrassed, I just think they’re not that interested because it’s not something that happens to them. Now, if there was a ‘manopause’…”
Perhaps if there was a ‘manopause’, the menopause would be a much more open topic as we all know how much men love to complain about their ailments such as man flu!
Many of the women echoed the idea that their partners simply didn’t understand: “[he] didn’t understand me at all going through the menopause, he just thought that I had turned into some grumpy, cranky woman”, explained one woman, while another claimed “he couldn’t understand why I wasn’t so attractive to him anymore, why I was just moody.”
It seems that a lack of understanding may make it harder for women to discuss the menopause with their partners. That’s why it is so important to open up and discuss the changes with our friends, GPs, colleagues, partners and children so that the information is out there, readily available. Educating others, including partners and children, who may not experience the menopause can be an important personal breakthrough for many women who want the relief of getting everything off their chests.
There are many women out there who simply may not want to discuss the menopause with their partners, however when it comes to sex, it can sometimes be an inevitable topic of conversation. Vaginal dryness, while not the most common menopausal symptom, can nonetheless affect many women. It can lead to painful sex and this may in turn begin to affect relationships.
The most important thing to remember is that every woman has a different menopause experience. While some may not ever have symptoms that could impact on their sex lives, for others vaginal dryness and other associated side effects can cause embarrassment but there is help at hand. Letting our loved ones know how we feel is one option or alternatively take a trip to your GP or try a specialised lubricant.
*1034 women aged 45+ (with at least 629 that have been or are going through menopause).