Menopause is the end of fertility, not the end of life
It was Swami Vivekananda who said, “Help if you can, do not complain.” This could be very well used in any context. Women are mystified and complaints about each stage of their life is blown out of proportion. Menstruation is tabooed, her body is objectified and her mind…it’s another ball game altogether. When a woman hits menopause she goes through a lot of physical change and these have emotional effects. Menopause is the end of fertility, not the end of life. Symptoms of menopause may start long before the actual moment when the menstruation stops. During this time all she requires is understanding and support. Here is a list of things that can make the transition smoother for women. The bottom line is it is better to have empathy than sympathy in these cases.
Believe in her
Before thinking of analysing the problem yourself, believe that when she knows 100% of the problem, she would be able to come up with 50% of the solution herself. It is important to understand and the first step towards it is listening and to listen you must keep your mouth shut. She might rant and tell you about problems that are beyond solving. Maybe she’s not looking for a solution, just talking about the problem helps. A sympathetic ear is, maybe, the most helpful way in helping a woman go through this change.
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Shut up and stay quiet
A woman going through menopause has lived long enough with her body to understand it: At least better than you. So hold your opinion about how to take care of it or be comfortable. She would know it better. So don’t impose something on her that you studied from the internet. There are no general rules to apply; it is different for each woman.
Menopause is not the end of the world although some women may feel so. A woman is not just the womb. End of fertility doesn’t end the productive life for a woman in India anymore. So don’t let her fall into despair while she starts having pre-menopause symptoms.
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Give her some space
“Age is just a number” is easier said than realised. Menopause causes drastic physical changes that require changes in lifestyle. But habits die hard. No more late night, diet restriction and newer medicines, more exercise: all these alienate a woman from her body that is changing fast and the mind that is coping with these changes. Give her some space to settle into these new routines. She needs to revaluate and rejuvenate herself. Respect her ‘alone time’ and overlook her self indulgence during this changes. She needs to get accustomed with her new identity. So stay out of the way and let her have a moment of peace.
Along with physical changes come the emotional changes. It can be something as small as irritation to something as grave as depression. Irritation and mood swings can be handled with compassion, empathy and a little sense of humour. But for things like anxiety and depression she may require clinical help. So listen to her emotional crisis and nudge her a bit in the right direction if you feel that things are getting out of control. Try to maintain a happy environment at home and ease things for her by dealing with the things that are irritating her. Get the plumber in time or fix the toaster the day she asks you to or take out the trash more than once in a while.
Pre-menopause symptoms may include hot flashes or night sweat or a lot of other things. Listen to her when she tells you what actually relieves her. Take responsibility of things that she handled all her life. The main aim is to ease her troubles. A stressful environment may aggravate her unstable conditions. So don’t argue with her when she wants the thermostat turned down or leave the fan on even on winter nights. Listen to what she needs and try to provide that to the best of your abilities or at least make her feel that you are there for her when she needs you. That reassurance may help her go through this phase smoothly. Remember, it’s just a phase and this too shall pass.