Menopause and Men

DANGER!! SHE’S LOW ON ESTROGEN, AND SHE HAS A GUN

As a male I take great risk here gently repeating what many females approach with humor.  For those women who truly suffer through menopause and for those around them it is no joking matter.

In the office I have been banned from going near the thermostat.  It’s always either too hot or too cold, and we have several women at varying stages of, shall we say, discomfort.  There are night sweats, sleep disturbances (They can tell you every program on between 1AM and 3AM nightly.), dry skin, lost libido, and restless leg syndrome.  For most women the sleep deprivation is the real killer.

One option for some women is hormone replacement therapy.  However, the debate rages on as to the danger of such therapy.  In essence, is the cure for menopausal symptoms far more destructive than menopause?  The jury is still out.  So, many women experiencing menopausal difficulties have chosen to simply “bite the bullet.”

Of course, as a male I can only offer sympathy and patience.  Males involved with menopausal women practice walking on eggshells on a regular basis.  As with any type of discomfort in one for whom we have deep feelings, it is always difficult to watch helplessly.  Most males honestly do not understand the depth of the discomfort many women going through menopause experience.

Psychologically speaking, both partners need help.  Women’s health websites and support groups usually offer excellent advice.  Because we men often have not been exposed directly to the symptoms, we often take the “what’s the problem, what’s the solution” tact.  WARNING MEN: This may be hazardous to your health.  Although it may be debated pertaining to other areas, with regard to menopause, women can truly say males are clueless.

As with most difficulties experienced by couples, the key to survival is communication.  ADVICE TO MENOPAUSAL WOMEN: Explain to your partner what you are experiencing.  Help educate your partner, and do not assume your partner will automatically know anything about what you are experiencing.  ADVICE TO MEN:  Shut up and don’t try to problem solve.  You can’t fix it, and you will only upset the female in your life by offering suggestions.  Just try to be as supportive as possible, and, when asked, help.  Understand that many women are experiencing the loss of what they consider to be the essence of a woman, and that is EXTREMELY emotional.

And lastly, sorry ladies, no I don’t think diamonds or a trip abroad will help your symptoms.

©Copyright Yellen & Associates 2009.  All rights reserved.

Dr. Andrew Yellen is a parent, former educator, and clinical and sports psychologist in private practice. He is also the co-founder along with his wife Heidi Yellen, M.A., B.C.E.T., of Yellen & Associates (http://www.yellenandassociates.com), a southern California firm providing psychological, educational, speech, and language services.