A guide to menopause anger for men: 5 tips to help men survive menopause

A tongue-in-cheek guide to menopause anger for men: plus 5 tips to help men survive menopause

A guide ot menopause anger for men (plus 5 tips to help men survive menopause)

 

It has been brought to my attention that most men have no idea what is going on for women during menopause and perimenopause. And that they are blind-sided by the menopause anger that comes towards them. 

What’s worse, this is happening at a time when you are dealing with your own midlife crisis and the fact that your new Porsche won’t fit in the garage with the Prado.

At the request of at least one male, here is my irreverent (but also serious) guide to menopause anger for men. Plus 5 tips to help men survive menopause anger without non-surgical removal of testicles sans anaesthetic.

You can also listen to this post as a podcast if you prefer

 

Is this menopausal anger your fault?

Possibly. (Definitely if you were being a d*ck). But it is more likely that the anger coming towards you is a result of huge hormonal change going on within the glorious body of the female in your life.

I know that it would be nigh impossible for you to imagine what it feels like in the body of a menopausal woman. But if you know what is happening to your lady, and how to support her, then it can make your life a lot easier. And hopefully your relationship will survive the faecal blizzard of menopause.

Below you will find a helpful guide to understand the mental and emotional impacts of menopause.  Plus five tips to help husbands avoid/survive menopause anger.

 

What is menopause?

Menopause is when a woman’s ovaries stop producing eggs and she no longer has periods each month. She is officially in menopause when a year has passed since her last period.

For most of us this occur around our late 40s or early 50s, but can occur earlier e.g. some of us are early achievers and some have a medically-induced menopause after surgery on their lady parts. 

In menopause her body stops producing estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, leaving her in a hormonally depleted state.

 

What is perimenopause

Perimenopause is the years leading up to menopause. This can be up to 10 years.  Things are starting to wind down, and the symptoms listed below start to rear their heads.

As one GP explained it to me:  “It’s like you’re an old car and you’re running out of fuel. You can continue for a few km but eventually you’re going to sputter out and stop.” 

 

What the hormones used to do for our mood and mental health

Notwithstanding all the functions these hormones do for our physiology, here is how they affect our mood and mental health:

 

Estrogen made us happier and more able to deal with stress

Estrogen is a mood booster. It also calms the parts of the brain that are responsible for the fear/stress response.

This means women with low-estrogen will be less resistant to emotional and psychological stress (e.g. ‘difficult’ work meetings or people being *ssholes).

Estrogen also gives you clearer cognition (thinking) and improves your communication skills. So that might be why she’s having a really tough time at work and can’t tell you what’s going. 

 

Progesterone made us calmer

Progesterone is the hormone that makes us feel calm and like “It’s ok, I’ve got this”. So now imagine the reverse…

 

Testosterone gave our life vibrancy

Yes, we have/had it too.  Testosterone is also released during ovulation which will helps with libido, sexiness, motivation, creativity and the drive to get sh*t done.

 

Now imagine all those hormones have disappeared

In menopause your lady now only has extremely low levels of hormones in her body. These hormones have been swimming around her body, keeping her healthy and happy since puberty. And now they have left the building. 

That’s right she is now in reverse puberty.

(Remember how sh*t puberty was for you? Please double it, because she now has to cope with this hormonal flux AND has adult responsibilities/work/ageing parents and you to cope with as well).

Interesting fact: If you are male, you now have MORE estrogen in your body than she does in hers.  Freaky hey! Don’t believe me? Listen to Dr Kelly Casperson on Dr Louise Newson’s Podcast.

 

The upsides of menopause

No more periods huzzah!

She no longer has to surf the crimson tide each month and will no longer have to pay GST on feminine hygiene products (up yours Australian government).

 

She will start speaking her mind and standing up for herself 

Estrogen and progesterone make us nicer, kinder and care for others. They’ve exited stage left, so your good lady might start speaking her mind a bit more on pesky topics like the gender pay gap, invisible division of labour and those skid marks in your undies in the wash basket.

 

A time of transformation

Midlife and menopause can also be a time where she starts to think about how she wants to live her ‘second adulthood’: what she wants to do, how she wants to feel, and what she wants to leave behind as her legacy.

This can be a time of positive change for her. She needs your support and acceptance as she goes through this transformation (or get out of her way).

 

The downsides of menopause

This is what is happening to your good lady in her low-hormone state. (Strap yourself in, this list is long):

  •       Bouts of sudden rage
  •       Irritability
  •       Teary and emotional for god know’s why. A lack of ability to regulate your emotions
  •       Low resistance to stress 
  •       Loss of libido (changing from ‘rampant sex goddess’ to ‘put my nightie down when you’ve finished’)
  •       Vaginal dryness and pain during sex (‘do not bring that thing near me without lubrication’)
  •       Recurrent UTIs due to vaginal dryness and design flaws in the female genito-urinary system)
  •       Brain fog (inability to think or focus or communicate)
  •       Feeling completely exhausted all the blummin time
  •       Weight gain around the middle (the dangerous fat type…)
  •       Joint pain, muscle pain
  •       Hot flushes (aka sweating like a water buffalo for no goddamn reason, totally out of nowhere “surprise!”)
  •       Night sweats
  •       Totally f*cked sleep
  •       Suddenly getting mental health issues when you’ve never experienced it before. Women who have never experienced mental ill-health may be surprised by anxiety and depression in mid-life. Anxiety and depression are common symptoms of peri- and post-menopause. It is no coincidence that age 45-55 is most common age for female suicide. 
  •       Or worsening of existing mental health conditions like underlying ADHD that she may not have known about (“Surprise!”)
  •       Hair loss
  •       Osteoporosis
  •       Heart palpitations
  •       Dizziness
  •       Less resilience to autoimmune diseases

 

So many fun symptoms and surprises. Good times!

 

There is hope!

HRT is FABULOUS

I have seen women’s mental and physical symptoms evaporate after starting HRT (Huzzah!) And despite what you may have heard in the ether, based on faulty 1980’s studies, it is safe and effective for most women.

 

Find a knowledgeable GP

Not every GP has had specialist training in menopause. Find a great GP that is specially trained in menopause on the Australian Menopause Society website

 

 

Lifestyle tweaks really improve symptoms

Although we might like to think we are, we are no longer living in a 20/30-something body and your lady can’t get away with what she was getting away with before (e.g. weekend booze binge, 6 hours sleep and midnight curries).

Small changes to her lifestyle can positively impact her symptoms (sleep, what she eats, when she eats, her working schedule, how much rest she gets, the type of movement she does).

Sleep is REALLY important. She needs more than you. Let. Her. Sleep.

I really like The My Menopause Transformation Program by Dr Wendy Sweet – I’m not in any way affiliated with it. I did it myself and it helped me.

 

 

Encourage her to talk to someone

Menopause is a time of transition. Letting go of her youthful body and ability to procreate may bring up grief.  It may also bring up confusion about her identity and purpose going forwards. But menopause is also a time of stepping forwards into ‘second adulthood’ and a new powerful her.  Encourage her to talk to someone about it.

Many counsellors, like myself, are recognising how much support women need in this stage and how helpful it is to have someone to talk to, to work through these emotions and physical symptoms. 

She doesn’t have to go through it alone.

 

Gentlemen, here’s how you can help

 

Listen to her

Without offering suggestions or fixing anything.  (Unless you really want that non-surgical removal of testicles sans anaesthetic).  She can find her own solutions.

But if you listen to her and ask her questions, she will feel heard, validated, and supported (and loved). And therefore less likely to want to bite your head off.

 

Ask what you can do to help her

Unless you are an actual angel, it is likely that you are doing less around the house than she is. She is exhausted and less resilient to stress.

How could you make her life easier and help her save those tiny molecules of energy she has left in her tank? Do stuff without her having to ask you. (You can see that bin is full as well as she can).

 

Give her a hug to increase her oxytocin levels

I’m thinking about your intimate partner here, not your female boss (that would be VERY weird).  Give her a hug (if that is ok with her) without expectation of horizontal action.

Hugging releases the love hormone oxytocin, which will make her feel closer to you. Oxytocin also makes us feel like we can trust the other person too.

Tip. if it’s not appropriate to hug her, dance with her. Dancing with someone releases endocanabinoids which will make her like and trust you more. (Muchos brownie points)

 

Install aircon in the bedroom

Install aircon so she can regulate her body temperature better. And don’t whinge when you feel too cold – just get a blanket for your side of the bed. Seriously… help her get a good night’s sleep and half these problems will improve.

 

Share this information with your buddies

The more men that understand what 51% of the population go through in midlife, the better.  Women in menopause are struggling to work and live life whilst going through this disruption.

 

 

One final thought…

For historical and cultural reasons we have grown up in a world that was organised and structured by men. In general, our working life is structured around a 7-day cycle that suits the male physiology.

You guys get a blast of testosterone every 1-3 hours.  Can you imagine what it would feel like in a body which is depleted of hormones, energy and motivation and doesn’t get an almost-hourly top up? 

The medical and research world is beginning to realise that the physiological differences between male and female bodies mean that we have to rethink how we apply medical, nutritional and sports/movement advice to the female 28-day cycle; and especially so during peri-menopause and post menopause.  This is so that we honour the differing physiological needs of the female body, so that 51% of the world’s population can thrive as much as their male counterparts.

I would argue that we need to extend this further to our working environment. And even to how you structure your life: when you work, when you rest, when you socialise.

Imagine if we could make our schedule supportive to 51% of the population… how much nicer life could be?

 

Maybe then that saying “Happy wife. Happy life” might ring a bit truer in mid-life.

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