A recent small study by the manufacturer of the menopause relief supplement Amberen showed that a surprising number of women don’t know their peri-menopause from their post-menopause, so to speak. And so, with a little help from Marcy Letourneau, part of the Amberen NurseAid program, we put together a little menopausal survival guide.
1. Sex can hurt.
Sure sex can be great and all, and we highly recommend indulging in it as often as you’d like, but just know that once you enter menopause, it can hurt.
During menopause, a woman’s vaginal walls become thinner, less elastic and more likely to tear. Vaginal dryness also occurs, which can cause women to experience pain during intercourse. Letourneau’s advice is simple: Keep at it!
“The more sex a woman has, the less dry she becomes and the stronger her pelvic muscles become,” she said. Also consider using coconut oil as a lubricant (unless you are using latex-based condoms, in which case don’t).
2. A lowered libido means less interest in having sex.
You may have been a horn-dog throughout your 20s and 30s, but once menopause begins, changes in a woman’s libido get real. And yes, this is going to impact your relationship with your significant other. Libidos have been known to go MIA for years and 75 percent of women in the Amberen study reported that menopause did collateral damage to their relationships. This is often due to feelings of guilt resulting from a woman’s decreased libido, said Letourneau. She suggests engaging in foreplay ― lots and lots of foreplay. And yes, talk to your partner about what’s going on down there, especially if it’s nothing.
3. Your skin will break-out so badly that you’ll think you’re back in puberty.
Hormones! They are a wondrous thing! A slight twitch and all of a sudden your skin goes dry and itchy and is more prone to break-outs. Moisturize like mad and don’t even dream of going out in the sun without sunblock on, says Letourneau. Exercise increases blood flow to all organs, including the largest one – your skin. Increased blood flow means more oxygen and nutrients are delivered to skin, making it healthier. And FWIW, 65 percent of the women surveyed said that menopause is harder to go through than puberty. More than 41 percent of menopausal women who work would rather talk to a coworker about going through divorce than going through menopause.
4. You may forget what sleep is.
Women with severe hot flashes can have four or five of them per hour. This, understandably, leads to irritability, stress and lack of sleep. A full 94 percent of menopausal women experience sleep disruptions ― on average four nights a week! ― because of hot flashes. Try putting a bag of frozen peas under your pillow and flipping it around to manage night sweats, Letourneau suggests. We’d add that the bag of frozen peas also works quite nicely as a projectile thrown at a partner’s head should they complain that your hot flashes are disturbing their sleep as well. Yeah. Avoid triggers like wine, spicy food and sugar in the evening.
5. Your moods may range from weepy depressed to murderously angry with little in between.
It can get ugly out there. Doctors frequently fail to warn women that hormone fluctuations can affect them both physically and mentally. Shifts in mood and self-confidence can impact a woman’s relationship with her partner, family, friends or colleagues. This inevitably can take a toll on her mental state. Exercise can help. So can talking to your doctor about it.