If you love a woman who’s going through menopause, you need to know some things about what’s happening to your partner. First, I’m going to help you understand menopause, and how it’s affecting her and you. Then, we’re going to talk about how you can support your wife through all of the phases of menopause. Call it: A Menopause Guide for Husbands.
Menopause is not a single event.
Even though the word means, “last period,” the change itself can last for five to fifteen years, and sometimes longer. Women go through their reproductive cycles for a good 30 years, before they start to go through the change. But a lot of women, especially under the hormonal assault of modern stressors, have much shorter reproductive cycles, meaning that they’re going to go through the change sooner.
First, there’s a long premenopause phase, where hormones become a little bit lower in a woman’s 30s, but it’s mainly the perimenopause phase that begins the hormonal roller coaster. Perimenopause is the five to fifteen-year period before menopause actually happens. Menopause itself may only last about a year or two. Then, when the woman has not had a period for at least 13 months, she’s considered postmenopausal, and that lasts the rest of her life.
Menopause is all about a woman missing her hormones, particularly estrogen, progesterone, and later in the change, testosterone. Missing these hormones affects so many aspects of her life. It affects her moods, her memory, her relationships, including sex, but also her motivation for anything in her life. Losing her estrogen affects her ability to experience joy. It’s important that you understand that her sex hormones affect so many aspects of her life, and because she’s missing them, it’s affecting her behavior and the way she feels.
First of all, just getting educated on what happens during the change can really help your wife (and you!) survive menopause.
Hiding your head in the sand and thinking it’s all going to go away will cause more harm than good. Just by being with your wife as her hormones shift, you’re going to be affected. Did you know that your hormones follow hers? Yes, there are studies that prove men’s testosterone fluctuates with their wives’.
Adopting a positive attitude during this time can make a big difference. Now, I know it’s hard because if you’re close in age, you’re probably going through the change yourself. Most men will go through andropause by the time their woman is postmenopausal. Your hormones are dropping too, so you may both be a little moody, a little forgetful, and have a little less sex drive. That’s not unusual. With age, all men decline in their testosterone production, but this does happen more rapidly when you’re living with a woman going through the change.
The number two thing you can do to support your wife through menopause is to try and be as patient and loving as possible.
Ask if she needs help, and be there to just listen. You can’t fix it for her, but you can be supportive. I know it’s hard when she might be moody or irritable, but remember that this is your beloved wife. You want to support her through this, and it’s not going to last forever. The more emotional support you can provide her, the better. And if you’re not able to do that, that’s okay. She may need to talk to somebody else, and that’s okay too.
That’s why we create women’s groups to help support women going through menopause. It’s one of the reasons I created a Menopause Action Plan workshop for women – so that women could actually plan out their menopause and be able to deal with their hormonal fluctuations. As well as their husbands’. This way everyone isn’t just surviving the change, but thriving. You can find the link in the description below to access our MAP workshop for your wife.
Let’s talk about perimenopause – the long phase before actual menopause starts.
This is when your wife’s hormones are all over the place. Her progesterone is dropping because she’s not ovulating as regularly. She may be more moody, and her PMS may seem to last longer than usual. She may be bleeding more frequently, which may be interfering with your sex life. Between her moods, crazy periods, weight gain, and fatigue from insomnia, your wife may not feel very interested in sex. The sooner she gets some help, the better. Now, unfortunately there isn’t a really good test to verify that she’s perimenopausal – we have to go by her symptoms.
At this stage, one of the things that will help her the most is supporting her hypothalamus.
The sooner she starts supporting her hypothalamus nutraceutically, the easier her transition into menopause will be. She will be way less moody, she will have way less problems with her weight and her temperature control. And she will be able to sleep better. This is because it’s your hypothalamus that controls your sex hormones, your temperature regulation, your weight, your moods, your sleep, and your sex drive.
I know it’s hard, and sometimes your wife may not even know she’s going through the change. Honestly, I’ve been known as the Hormone Queen for over 30 years, but when I was going through perimenopause, I didn’t realize how much my mood swings were affecting my relationship until my husband sat me down, took my hands and said, “Sweetheart, if you were your own patient, wouldn’t you give yourself some hormones?” Although I’d been supporting my hypothalamus for years, which put off going through menopause for 15 years later than my sisters, and I didn’t have the usual symptoms like irregular periods, hot flashes, insomnia, or low libido, it wasn’t until my hormonal roller coaster was affecting my husband that I knew I needed extra support.
That’s why I think it’s so important that as a supportive husband, you get the information you need to support your wife through the change.
Now, let’s move onto menopause. Menopause means “the last period,” but the transition can take about two years. Your wife’s FSH is already high because her estrogen levels are so low that her pituitary gland is screaming at her ovaries to make more. Her hypothalamus is panicking because there’s not enough estrogen. Now, your wife is having a lot more hot flashes, and is even having night sweats. She may be getting more irritable and have more brain fog.
One of the most uncomfortable parts of menopause is vaginal dryness.
Estrogen keeps her vagina nice and juicy, but without it, she’s not lubricating, and sex can be painful. Because of her vaginal dryness, artificial lubrication may be needed. I recommend coconut oil as a sexual lubricant to help maintain a healthy vaginal PH. Coconut oil is natural, easy to use, and tastes great. Lack of her own natural lubrication doesn’t mean she doesn’t want you. It means her vagina is lacking estrogen. Plus, it does take her longer to become aroused when she’s in menopause. If the vaginal dryness is too severe, she may need vaginal estrogen. So be patient, and make sure you have lubrication available.
You may also notice that your wife has a lower sex drive. This is because in menopause, her estrogen and progesterone are pretty bottomed out. The most potent form of estrogen-estradiol is really the hormone that drives a woman’s libido. When her estradiol levels are good, you smell enticing to her. She’s attracted to you, and gets turned on by flowers, wine, thoughtful cards, compliments, and sexy movies.
At this point, she’s not yet deficient in testosterone. Testosterone affects a woman’s sex drive in the fact that she just wants to orgasm, but it’s not going to be the same sexual experience that you had when your wife was hormonally competent. So making sure she’s getting the hormones she needs, or at least encouraging her to talk with her healthcare provider can make a big difference.
The last phase is postmenopause.
This is the time after menopause, and your wife’s estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are all low. Without adequate sex hormones, she may be experiencing some chronic illnesses. She may have some bone loss, or osteoporosis. Her blood pressure and cholesterol may be going up. If you haven’t already instigated some lifestyle changes, meaning you’re eating healthier and are more active, it’s time to get started. This is something you can do as a couple. Start exercising together; start learning to cook healthier together. It’s going to make a huge difference for both of you, and will especially help balance her out. At this point, your postmenopausal wife may need hormone replacement therapy, and she will definitely benefit from hypothalamic support nutritionally.
A Menopause Guide For Husbands
If you have any questions about how to help your wife through menopause, you can join us in our Hormone Support Group. We have both men and women in there. I do Facebook Lives every month to answer your questions as an integrative nurse practitioner who has been treating menopausal women for over 30 years. In order to access the group, you need to sign up for my free Hormone Reboot Training. It’s a great online video course based on my book Hormones in Harmony: How to Heal Your Hypothalamus for Optimal Health, Graceful Aging and Joyous Energy. It will help you understand what’s happening with your wife, but also what’s happening for you and your health in general relation to hormones and your hypothalamus.
You can also encourage your wife to sign up for our Menopause Action Plan workshop. MAP is another online course, as well as a live support group where we talk about everything women are going through during the change, whether their perimenopausal, menopausal or postmenopausal. This is the best place for your wife to get support. I hope you and your wife will join us.