Menopause support: talking meno-a-meno makes it easier
We hear this all the time from women dealing with hormonal changes. Women tell us of creeping off to the bathroom at work when they feel a hot flash coming on, or driving to a distant drugstore to get something to relieve vaginal itch, or blaming their exhaustion on their kids rather than admitting to night sweats. It’s just too embarrassing to talk about, so we soldier on alone.
But we’re not alone. Like, really, REALLY not alone: By 2025, there will be 1.1 billion postmenopausal women in the world. One-point-one billion. That’s a massive potential support network, ladies, and that number doesn’t even include younger women and men who are eager to provide support if only someone asks. (hint hint)
Can we talk?
So, ask. Find your support system. Difficult times are always easier with your people in place, but menopause can be an especially important time for women to gather their tribe. Let’s take a look at all the stuff you may be dealing with, shall we?
- Empty nesting. “It’s like my house grew,” one woman told us. “Suddenly I had all this empty space. After years of griping at my kids about hogging the couch, all I wanted was someone to share it with.”
- Caring for elderly parents. Women are twice as likely as men to become the primary caregiver for an aging parent, usually while holding down a full-time job of their own. As one woman told us recently, “It’s just hard.”
- The emotional roller coaster. Many menopausal women report feeling anxious and depressed and having moods that swing more than a 1970s suburb. “My husband keeps trying to help, which is so great of him, but if he doesn’t stop it, there will be blood,” another woman admitted.
- Crappy sleep. Pardon our bluntness, but insomnia, night sweats, and increased anxiety can really shave off some of those critical zzzzzzzz’s, leaving us feeling irritable, exhausted, low on patience, and unable to concentrate.
- Low libido, painful sex. Reduced estrogen levels causes vaginal skin to thin and lose much of its natural lubrication, making sex painful. Because so many of us are reluctant to talk with our partners about what’s happening, there’s suddenly all kinds of friction (ha ha) interfering with our most important relationship.
- Dealing with symptoms at work. Our workplaces are havens of understanding, tolerance, and assistance, right? Well, ours is, but most are problematic for women dealing with hormonal changes. That woman desperately fanning herself with quarterly reports? Nothing to see there.
Seriously, gal, give yourself a break. There’s a reason superheroes team up to conquer evil, so be willing to send up the bat signal when you need help.
The benefits of support
Hot flashes, being caught off-guard by an unexpected period—these can be awkward moments, we agree—but too often women allow fear of embarrassment to isolate them. And that could be exactly the wrong thing to do for our emotional health. Plus, it perpetuates the THOROUGHLY OUTDATED IDEA that women should be embarrassed about their bodies.
A strong social network can act as a buffer between you and the more detrimental effects of depression and anxiety. Friends with wine and chocolate may not solve everything, but they can help. And sometimes a little boost on a bad day is all you need.
However, a mood boost isn’t all you get from your Partners in Perimenopause:
Information. This is a biggie. For example, did you know about vaginal atrophy? Yes, that’s a thing that happens, but using a specially formulated lubricant can delay or avoid it. Your friends probably didn’t know about it either or figured painful sex was just an unavoidable consequence of aging. How popular will you be if you help your best buds get their sex lives back?
Emotional support. Knock back the evil twins of depression and anxiety by talking through what’s happening. When we talk about what’s stressing us out, we react better and stay calmer, which can lead to clearer thinking.
Overall health benefits. Friends keep us from dying sooner. Yep. Having close friends may help us ward off that first heart attack. According to HealthDay, good friends are a helpful antidote to heart issues, diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression, and they can exert positive influence on us when it comes to lifestyle choices like exercise, nutrition, and smoking. One caveat: poorly chosen friends can make us sicker, so stick to your positive peeps.
Need a network?
While nothing beats an old-fashioned face-to-face complete with wine and brownies, online networks can provide satisfying social support. We’re building our community here at Gennev, so join us by joining the conversation: leave a comment on our blogs and engage with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You can also find support via groups like the Red Hot Mamas. There’s no reason to go it alone. With quite literally millions of women to choose from, you can find that simpatico someone to make menopause healthier and easier!
Feeling alone in your menopause journey? Work with a Menopause Health Coach. Learn more.
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