It takes some work to make sure your relationship survives menopause if symptoms are kicking your arse and it’s spilling over into your relationship.
Menopause itself can be hard enough for you to deal with but have you stopped to consider how it is for your partner?
No doubt it’s a tricky time and this is amplified when you’re both walking around on eggshells or biting your tongue all the time to avoid arguments. I’ve put together some hints on how to make sure you both get through it.
This is key. A lot of partners may just assume it’s the usual monthly hormones issue but need to really understand that it goes way deeper than that and is likely to be much less predictable. Try to take the time to talk about it. I don’t recommend doing it while you’re mid-rant about something else or feeling particularly upset or vulnerable. Choose a time when you feel level-headed and calm.
Think about where you are and what you’re doing too. I have found that JT and I have some of our best conversations and talks when we’re not at home. Holidays, weekends away, a day out somewhere or even just walking the dogs. It just seems easier when we’re not at home. I think it’s because we’re not distracted by other stuff and just literally focussed on what we’re doing there and then. It’s honestly a game changer and I would urge you to think about planning this type of conversation in the same way.
Don’t make any drastic decisions!
The reduction in oestrogen which occurs during menopause can alter other hormones too. One of these is called oxytocin. You might remember this one if you’ve given birth. It’s the hormone that your body produces during childbirth which creates feel-good emotions that help the mother and baby to bond. It’s actually known as the “love hormone” or the “cuddle hormone”! This doesn’t just affect you during childbirth though. As it is affected during menopause, it can leave you feeling disconnected or not feeling warmth or bonded with your partner like you might have done in the past.
The key is to sit with this for a while to help you understand if it is related to your hormones or maybe they just don’t float your boat anymore. If it is actually the latter, that’s fine. We all change, our needs change, our goals change, our plans change. If this is the case, it might well be time for you to move on. However, you don’t want to walk away from a relationship that may well come back from this once your hormones stabilise. Nobody likes having regrets!!
There are things you can do to boost your oxytocin levels so give some of them a go-to keep those levels up.
- listen to your fave tunes loud. This is such a feel-good thing to do and will leave you feeling happier and relaxed.
- orgasm! Having sex with your partner can increase feelings of intimacy if you’re feeling disconnected, but if you also have an orgasm, this boosts the oxytocin and creates more of a bond. If sex is difficult, fear not, the orgasm itself will help and that can be with or without your partner!
- Have a cuddle. Other forms of physical intimacy can also help such as cuddling, hugging or holding hands.
- Spend time with friends. Strong friendships create feelings of trust and wellbeing and building that bond increases your oxytocin levels.
- Have a massage. Massage is known to induce relaxation and increase feelings of wellbeing. It doesn’t have to be a professional massage. You could try massage with your partner. This is also another way to build your bond with each other.
- Stroke a pet. If you have a cat, dog or other pet, spend time stroking it. Studies have shown that both dogs and humans have increased oxytocin levels from patting and stroking.
- Do something nice for someone. This is well known to increase feelings of wellbeing. So think about donating to charity, help a friend or neighbour out or buy someone a gift. It’ll not just make their day but will help you too.
Get your sex mojo back
Sex can become a bit of a “thing” when it comes to menopause. First off, this is normal! Secondly, it doesn’t spell doom for your relationship. You just have to think about things differently or get a bit more creative.
It helps to first consider what the main issue is. For example, if you’re not having sex because it’s painful, this can often be easily sorted with the help of medication and topical gels or a good old tube of lube!
If it’s because hot flushes are keeping you up at night and you’re knackered by the time you get home from work, there are ways to address this. Again, medication might be useful to address the symptoms which will solve the issue. If that’s not a road you want to go down, then consider sex at different times. For example in the mornings or on a day off, a “nooner” can feel well naughty!
If you’re just not “feeling it”, think about getting away from your normal habits. Plan a night out together, get dressed up, consider a bit of role-play, try something new that you wouldn’t normally such as a new position or somewhere other than the bedroom. Sex toys can be great to use together too.
Look after yourself
A lot of the symptoms you might experience during perimenopause and menopause can lead to you having a really negative self-image. This is worse if there are also physical symptoms acting as a barrier in your relationship such as vaginal dryness which can cause painful sex or low libido.
You need to make sure you look after yourself. If you have symptoms, think about what can be done to manage them better. For example, speaking to your GP about treatments might help. There are medications such as HRT and antidepressants as well as topical creams which might transform how you’re feeling.
Also, make time to do nice things for yourself. If you’re feeling low or anxious, self-care is often the last thing on your mind but try to make an effort to do some nice things for yourself. This can be anything from arranging a night out with your best friend to having a glass of wine in a nice relaxing bath. Whatever it is that works for you, set the time aside to do it.
Mood swings and aggression can often be something your partner might be the target of or on the receiving end of and this can be difficult for them and you. Particularly if that’s not part of your normal make-up. Fluctuations in mood coupled with unpredictability can be exhausting and upsetting. If this is problematic, it is something that can often be treated well with medication from your GP so consider making an appointment to ask about it. There are also therapeutic treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) that can be really effective. Your GP can also give you information on this. You can also often self-refer if you live in England. Google IAPT followed by the region where you live and it will bring up details for the service provider in your area. They often have an online referral form that can be completed in a couple of minutes.
If you’re having difficulty navigating this and don’t know where to start, please get in touch and I’m happy to chat with you about how I can support you to get back on track. I offer a free, no-obligation call for advice so get in touch here.