My name is Alan. Laura is my wife of 21 years. This is my side of the menopause story.
By telling my side of the story, I hope to educate others on the man’s perspective of what’s happening during a woman’s transition to menopause. Through education, I believe perspectives can be improved, many disagreements avoided and many marriages and relationships salvaged. If I had only known what was going on with my wife, I would have been more understanding and more compassionate.
Knowing why her reactions and emotions were different than they had been in the past would have made a huge difference in my reactions towards her. I’m quite certain we are not alone in our experiences. One only needs to look at the increase in number of divorces between the ages of 40 to 60 to realize that it is plausible that menopause plays a part in these divorces.
To say that Laura’s first hot flash was shocking is an understatement. We had no idea she was near that stage of her life. But, that first hot flash has also led to discovering why things had been the way they were for the past few years. The mood swings. The decreased libido. Skin issues including acne breakouts. Even her loss of self-confidence, which I could not comprehend after knowing her as long as I have.
These early symptoms of menopause are commonly overlooked and written off as depression or some other mental issue or even mental illness. The typical way many doctors address many of these earlier signs is through prescription drugs. Not once was it suggested or even considered that these issues were naturally occurring symptoms of the transition to menopause. Not once!
As a Nutritional Biochemist, my first reaction to any type of health-related issue is to research and learn all the known reasons why a condition happens and then work with colleagues to develop a clinically relevant formulation or system that can help mitigate the undesired effects of that specific condition. This was no different. That first hot flash sent me on a mission to help my wife as I saw firsthand how this was affecting her…and me.
Through research, I quickly learned that the hot flash is not the beginning of the transition to menopause, even though it is frequently recognized as such. The hot flash is however, the primary symptom recognized by mainstream medicine signifying when a woman is entering the transition phase to menopause or perimenopause. It became very clear that she had actually began her transition several years before that first hot flash. Knowing this earlier would have explained why she was feeling the way she was. Understanding the underlying cause of her mood swings and loss of libido would have prevented many of my negative responses to her feelings and, because I understood why, would have led me to be more compassionate.
I now know that it is possible for a woman to overcome many of the issues our spouses experience while transitioning to menopause. I also know that if I felt the way I did, there has to be so many men who also have these same feelings and have reacted similar to how I had reacted. It is important for women to know that men react this way because men don’t understand menopause. In fact, most of the time women may not even understand what’s going on due to the fact that menopause has been considered a taboo topic of discussion. This has to change.