Menopause 101 for Families
Everyone who goes through something life-changing needs and deserves their family’s support—and menopause is nothing short of life-changing. Having family support is correlated with a reduction in menopausal symptoms, so supporting your family members through menopause is crucial. If someone in your family is menopausal, read the tips below on how you can best help them.
Learn a Little Bit About Menopause So You’re Prepared
One reason menopause is challenging is that there is a widespread lack of information about the experience. Every menopausal experience is different, but understanding what your family member might be struggling with makes everything a bit easier. Some of the most common symptoms of menopause are hot flashes and night sweats, vaginal dryness, sleep disturbances, anxiety or depression, and metabolism changes. All of these symptoms are a normal part of the aging process, but that doesn’t mean your family member has to suffer. Many symptoms are treatable!
Give Them a Chance to Talk About It
One of the most difficult things about menopause is the silence and misinformation that surrounds it. Many people find it nearly impossible to bring up in conversation—even with their doctor. If you are close, you can gently ask how menopause is going for them, as long as you’re certain they’ve started menopause. Let them share their concerns without any judgment from you, and never belittle their symptoms. Having someone to share their experience with is an excellent way for families to support someone going through menopause, and it can prevent them from feeling like they must always “pull it together.”
Believe What They Say
The stigma of menopause is pervasive. Plenty of people will believe that menopausal symptoms can’t possibly be as bad as they seem, unfortunately. A quarter of women have severe symptoms that can be debilitating and affect their work performance as well as relationships. The guilt that women feel when they are told it’s “all in their heads” worsens the problem.
Cut Them Some Slack
Everyone who has gone through puberty remembers what a tough time it was. And in many ways, menopause is like a reverse puberty where the hormone production drastically slows. Before engaging in an argument or adding to their guilt about something left undone, have some sympathy for the physiological changes that they are dealing with. Menopause is temporary, and you’ll get your wife, mother, aunt, cousin, sister, or daughter back eventually.
Encourage Them to Reach Out for Support
If your family member is struggling with certain realities of menopause, reassure them that it’s necessary and okay to ask for help. Sometimes, getting more sleep and shifting some of the household duties to their spouse can be enough to make the symptoms manageable. If they aren’t feeling right, they may need more support in the form of a therapist or doctor. Menopause puts women at higher risk for anxiety and depression, so read about the signs of these mental health issues and keep the lines of communication open.
Many menopausal women experience vaginal dryness. If this is the case for your loved one, they may want to speak with their gynecologist about it. Vaginal dryness is irritating, and it’s a symptom they don’t have to live with. Encourage them to seek solutions to vaginal dryness—and any other symptoms—until they feel better.