Have you ever thought of menopause? It had never crossed my mind. I guess it is because I am still in my twenties and life just seems to be at an all-time high. Well the question caught me off guard! No, I said as I continued with my work. A few moments into my work and the silence that followed the question set me thinking-what is menopause? I slowly turned my head and there she was, her head bent low-supported by her right arm. Sarah is usually a cheerful lady, spreading smiles all over the office and a day is not one in the office without her. This contrast in demeanor did not strike me as hard as the reality that I failed to read in between the line to see her hurting, I was her closest friend. I slowly moved to her side, took a seat, and gently stroke her hand. She broke down in tears but still struggling to maintain her composure lest somebody would walk in on us.
The Menopause Agony
‘I can’t take it anymore’ she said amidst sobs. I had all along admired and respected her for her strength, this statement sounded so strange. I feel like my whole life is fallen apart. I do not feel to agree with my boys on anything-they think I am too irritable and too sensitive. What used to be happy moments in the home have been replaced by very cold moments with a big wall of fear dominating every conversation! As if this is not enough, as soon as I get into the bedroom it seems like another one of the torture chambers. I dread the sight of my husband in his pajamas. Sex has become such a torturing experience. It is like he is no longer the one I have known for the last thirty years. He keeps hurting me to the extent that I end up bleeding and he does not seem to notice that I am hurting. I feel so afraid to tell him I do not feel like it tonight as he may be pushed into other women’s arms.
And then there is this lack of sleep, I keep awake for the most part of the night, tossing and turning in bed. In a moment I am feeling so hot and sweating all over that I have at times to change my sheets, the next moment the feeling is gone! So many changes that send me crazy…
I as I sat next to her I though her troubles seem to have caught her unawares. I sympathized with her because apart from her much admired family, the high quality standards at the workplace were crumbling right before our eyes. I had to do something really fast to help out my friend.
Luckily for me and Sarah, we had a friend at our church who is a gynecologist. Just a phone call was enough to set up an appointment with her. We were close and so it was not difficult to open up to her. She was kind enough to take us through what menopause it in such a simple language that by the time we left her office, our grief was already gone. Here are some of the insights she gave us in her talk;
Menopause is the period the marks the end of a woman’s fertility period. For most women it occurs during their late thirties to early fifties when they are completely infertile, she explained. She went on to let us in on the major symptoms of menopause.
Sexual Concerns-dry Vagina
Among the symptoms that come with menopause is the dryness experienced in a woman’s vagina that is caused by the fluctuations in the body hormones. This leads to a very painful sexual experience for the woman. Most often the woman would go like ‘not tonight’. This may often leave the spouse more perplexed. I could clearly see Sarah node her head. If left unattended to, it could lead to a severe disconnect in the marriage. It is important that you both understand what you are going through. Take time to explain to your husband and even research together on the topic of menopause so that you are both able to cope with the situation. An alternative measure that women could take to relieve such pains is the use of medically safe lubricant products to help ease the dryness in the vagina. The more often a couple practices sex, the lesser the dryness and pain thereof.
The physiological side of menopause is reflected in mood swings. The degree of this mood swings vary from one woman to another. There are those who can control, others do not even want to talk to their spouses or even children while others slip into depressions. I could see Sarah’s face light up-thank God she was not yet into depression. The doctor recommended massages, deep breath exercises, stress relief techniques, health lifestyles and self-nurturing ventures to help alleviate mood swings. Antidepressants would be needed in the event the woman slips into depression.
Night Sweats and Hot Flashes
For those hot and sweaty nights, a woman needs to sleep in light clothing preferably made from cotton. A woman could also use layered beddings that can easily be pulled off when wet. A fun would come in handy and even a frozen cold pack under the pillow would be effective in having a cool face. A bottle of cool water sipped throughout the night was help lower the temperatures.
As for the insomnia, regular sleeping patterns would be great in helping out. Maintain a conducive sleeping environment in the bedroom. A woman could also snack on peanut butter or cereal with milk as they contain substances that could induce sleeping.
Well, Menopause no longer seemed a myth. I was relieved to see Sarah’s face brighten as she made her way home. She looked forward to sharing with her husband and thereafter with her children. She thought their support would greatly help in her situation as well as all the tips she had received at the doctor’s office.