Talking to men about MenopauseDec 01, 2021
I never thought I’d put the words “Rod Stewart” and “menopause” in the same sentence, but in the past couple weeks this beloved rockstar has become the center of a worldwide conversation about how men can support their favorite women as they go through this life change. Thanks Rod!
Why It's Challenging to Talk to Each Other About Menopause
So, how do we have a grown-up conversation between men and women about menopause? On the woman’s side, it is a challenge. Culturally, we have been taught that menopause is a sign of aging, of losing value, of imminent loss of our sexiness and beauty. Talking about going through this process with a partner is like admitting that we are going down the tubes. Plus, the added bonus of a whole bunch of fun symptoms--libido goes down, lubrication dries up, bleeding can be haywire, skin sags, sleep stinks, we are hot and cold and sweaty and emotional. Good times.
On the men’s side, it may be even worse. The general taboo around talking about periods and hormones and all things “female” only compounds the confusion and terror that our loving partners must experience as their beloved ladies transform into a new and potentially more volatile version of themselves. So nobody talks about it. And men and women both feel isolated and frustrated and sad.
Why We SHOULD Talk about it!
As a doctor who has treated menopause naturally for the past 20 years, I feel it is my duty to 1. Help reframe the conversation around menopause, and 2. Offer some information about how women can manage symptoms naturally and safely.
So what do I want men and women to know about menopause? First of all, let’s talk about why menopause rocks. We’ve got some obvious gimmies:
- You don’t have to worry about birth control anymore
- You don’t have to spend 25% of your life bleeding anymore
Beyond this, there is a more esoteric conversation about the power of women who have moved past their reproductive phase of life. We spend 30+ years literally giving part of ourselves to the world every month--we bear and raise children, we provide for our families and friends, we shoulder the responsibility for feeding and meeting the needs of everyone around us. And this is BEAUTIFUL. But after menopause, we get to be our own independent selves, which is also pretty amazing. So let’s remember:
- Menopause is natural--we are genetically programmed to stop having periods.
- Menopause is healthy!
- Symptoms of menopause can be challenging to navigate!
Menopause is not a disease, but we could use some support.
Our hormones have to shift to their “new normal”, which can cause a variety of physical and mental changes. The shifts we experience during menopause are natural and healthy, but they can be pretty unpleasant. Things like hot flashes and night sweats can range from mildly annoying to completely overwhelming. If you are having symptoms that are significantly impacting your quality of life, there are really good options that can help.
We can do better than HRT!
While the articles I’ve read about Rod Stewart’s conversation about menopause are great because it has brought this topic into the limelight, I have a couple of concerns about how they are talking about menopause. First, they are treating menopause as a disease. Second, they promote Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) as the “cure” for this disease. The concern with HRT is that there are well documented potential side effects. These include:
- Blood clots
- Increased risk for breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers
- It can make High blood pressure and liver disease worse.
Fortunately, there are less risky options to help with menopausal symptoms! Usually, I start with my patients by testing their hormones to find out what they are actually doing. This helps us decide how to support my patients best. But before this, you can do so much by making some really simple changes:
- Minimize sugar and alcohol in your diet--they both can severely increase hot flashes and night sweats
- Exercise every day--this helps to regulate the secretion of hormones from your brain.
- Choose self care--spend some time every single day doing the things that make you feel good.
- Spend at least 8 hours in bed--even if your sleep isn’t great, get enough rest for your body to rejuvenate itself.
After we address the basics, we have a range of good natural options for supporting hormone health. In my practice, I generally use natural supplements and botanicals first--they have low risk and work so well. In some cases, we can also use bioidentical hormones, which have not been shown to have the same risk as conventional HRT.
Do you have questions for me about menopause? Want to know more about your hormones and how you can heal them naturally? Take a look at my Women’s Hormone Transformation Masterclass!
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