Firstly, I want to say how proud I am of my wife for letting me publish this blog. It’s an extremely personal story, which has taken great courage to share.
The menopause will affect every woman and yet it’s still a subject that many don’t discuss. This is one of the main reasons Nicky decided to let me share our experience with the menopause, over the last 18 months. She said even if 20 people read the blog, then that’s 20 women who may benefit from these tips.
Due to medical issues 19 years ago, at the age of 27 my wife Nicky had a full hysterectomy, taking away the option of ever having her own children. 18 months ago the doctor advised her to stop taking her Hormone Replacement Therapy, due to abnormal cells in her body. This initiated the menopause, which neither of us were prepared for.
My Nicky is a beautiful, confident, bubbly and energetic person who lives life to the full. She has a passion for health and fitness and runs/practises yoga 6 days a week. From the second the menopause hit her, in her own words, she felt “fat, ugly and an emotional wreck”. Her moods fluctuate every hour, her body temperature increases with no warning, she cries at the drop of a hat and she hasn’t had a full night’s sleep since September 2017. In fact, she has been surviving on 2-3 hours sleep a night for 18 months. She works full time, teaches yoga and runs 6 days a week – I don’t know how she does it. I often ask her to slow down but she refuses to stop doing the things she enjoys, because in her own words “it will beat me”.
I’m not going to lie, it took me a while to really understand the symptoms of the menopause and some days I just couldn’t understand why she would burst into tears if she dropped a tea towel. Reality hit 3 months into Nicky’s menopause when I picked up a little cold and sweated for 24 hours. It was hideous. I then realised that Nicky goes through this every single day and just gets on with life.
I thought I would share some of the things that I have done to try and help Nicky on a day to day basis.
1. Educate yourself. Read up on the menopause, there’s so much information out there. Not every woman has the same symptoms, but it’s useful to understand what can happen. Symptoms can include hot flushes, mood swings, weight gain, loss of libido and insomnia.
2. Emotional support. Just simply be there, in whatever capacity she needs. Let her know that you will work through it as a couple. Sometimes Nicky just needs a hug, or even to be left on her own. Don’t ask what’s wrong, just be there.
3. Be patient. Patience is vital, both short and long term. If your partner seems sad or angry, cut her some slack. Listen to her without making it about you.
4. Plan ahead. If you know that certain situations can stress her out, come up with a plan for dealing with them. On the flip-side be prepared to cancel plans at the last minute and understand that she may not feel up to socialising when surviving on 2 hours sleep a night.
5. Fan. Carry a small fan with you everywhere you go. If she needs it, give it to her discreetly. Don’t start waving it about in her face. As much as you think you may be helping by doing this, she might not want to advertise her hot flushes to the world. In fact I recall Nicky throwing the fan in my face the first time I wafted it about – we did laugh about this afterwards!
6. Bedding. Have a spare set of bedding underneath the bed or close to hand. Hot flushes cause excessive sweating, so Nicky often gets in the shower at random times in the night. I quickly change the sheets, so she can just jump back into bed without feeling embarrassed or guilty about waking me up.
It’s a known fact that the menopause can affect a woman’s sex drive. Be patient and remember it’s temporary. She’s probably finding it much harder than you to cope with. She has the extra worry of knowing that her menopause is now affecting you, so ease that burden by being understanding.
Every single one of us has a woman in our life that will go through the Menopause and it can be an extremely tough time for them. Nicky said that accepting that she would never have children in her eyes, was far easier than going through the menopause. This is a strong statement to make.
I genuinely don’t know how Nicky does it. I see her struggling on a day to day basis, but she puts a smile on her face and gets on with life.
The women in our lives are superheroes. Support them, make them laugh, have patience, understand what they are going through, but most of all love them.