Even though the majority of (opens in a new tab)experience menopausal symptoms, and menopause is regularly discussed on talk shows and in magazines, the symptoms still take women by surprise. This can be a very stressful time for all your personal relationships, especially your marriage. Do not hesitate to get professional help if relationships become strained. Following are a few things our patients wish they had been told about menopause. You may start having symptoms 10 years before you actually enter menopause. Beginning in your mid-forties or even earlier, you may begin experiencing menstrual irregularity, mood swings, hot flashes, and sleep problems. This stage, called perimenopause, can last several years. According to the Mayo Clinic, once you have gone 12 consecutive months without a period, perimenopause is over, and you have reached menopause. (opens in a new tab). You won’t feel like yourself. The symptoms of menopause include hot flashes and cold flushes, night sweats, irregular periods, hair loss, facial hair, memory lapses, and inability to concentrate. You won’t feel like yourself, and you may not act like yourself either. It will pass, but it will take time. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms; he or she may be able to help you get some relief. Your sex drive may go down. Fluctuating hormone levels, mood swings, and vaginal dryness may make you less desirous of sex. Make the effort to stay connected with your spouse or significant other, even if you don’t want to have intercourse, and consider other ways to please each other. You may have severe mood swings and outbursts. Many of our patients have been surprised at the speed and severity of their mood swings. Understandably, their families feel confused about the sudden changes in mood. Talk to your doctor if your mood swings are severe, and consider other ways of relieving stress, such as yoga or exercise. Don’t be afraid to let your family know when you need time alone to work through your moods. You won’t want to hear any advice. It’s human nature to try to come up with solutions for problems, and your family may feel your menopausal symptoms are an issue they can solve. If their well-intended advice grates on your nerves, lovingly tell them that you appreciate their concern, but that you need them to listen and just be there for you. For more information on possible symptoms of menopause, (opens in a new tab).
If you have been through this, what advice do you have for other women?