Let’s imagine that half the world is female. That means that potentially half of the world will experience menopause and all the delights that come with it.
That’s a lot of hormonal women in a bad mood who have forgotten what they were doing 2 minutes ago.
And for those women who are in a relationship with a fella who has little knowledge of our menstrual world, that means there are going to be a lot of fellas out there wondering where the fuck their partner has gone.
Us women were never taken to one side for the heads up on all of this, so imagine how men must feel as they experience our symptoms completely blind.
There are going to be a lot of men out there scratching their heads. Men trying to figure out what on earth happened to the woman they love and how they have turned into someone who is often unrecognisable, with a temper to match the Incredible Hulk and a tongue sharper than a knife. Someone who can be full of energy, joy and laughter one minute, then with no warning want to curl up in a ball and hide from the world the next.
If your ‘hot stuff’ has become too hot to handle as she battles her way through the hormonal minefield on the road to menopause, then you need a helping hand. Fellas, this blog is for you…
Prepare for Grumps and Random Emotions
If you thought you understood our PMT mood swings, then hold on to your hats. Prepare to be flexible as most of us ladies are going to suffer from ‘next level’ mood swings. Watch out for subtle signs – with me the smallest thing made me cry. Here’s an example. Sainsbury’s changing their Bourbon biscuit recipe (for the worst) was a particular low point for me. I sobbed as I mourned the loss of the best biscuit in the world. The husband played a blinder by coming home one day with a experimental pack from Waitrose (which were amazing by the way) and that generated another tsunami of tears, this time in total relief.
As a man, you will make a mistake. You need to remember we have been biting our tongues for years over the small stuff, but in perimenopause the small stuff becomes monumental. It’s because we have a sensory overload of small stuff and are now in a permanent state of hormonal-Buckaroo, where the smallest thing will light our emotional touch paper. We don’t really hate you when you put a spoon in the fork section in the cutlery drawer, or buy a blue shower gel when the feature colour in our bathroom is plum tones.
We really don’t mean to act like the possessed girl in ‘The Exorcist’. Unfortunately you have before you an adult who is suffering from what you would describe as being ‘over-tired’ in a child. We aren’t sleeping well right now and it’s making us a little grumpy to say the least.
Because we aren’t sleeping, our days become a struggle on batteries that have not recharged overnight. The cotton-wool foggy feeling is overwhelming. If you can learn how to handle our emotional demons when we are tired, you will be on to a winner.
We’re Sad, Scared and Unprepared
There are things happening to our bodies that we just weren’t prepared for and it’s making us fearful. I know you chaps don’t like to know about periods, and many of you think that this whole menopause lark is just about us no longer receiving a visit from our monthly ‘visitor’.
Here lies the problem. Before perimenpause kicked in, us girls kept a diary of some sort, telling us when this visitor would arrive. We were organised and dealt with it swiftly and easily. But at this stage in our life things aren’t so easy.
For example, pre-perimenopause it might have been on a nice, neat 28 day cycle and an unmessy affair. During perimenipause our hormones are a bitch, meaning it can arrive whenever the fuck it likes. It can be a like a gushing flood (I genuinely thought I was having a miscarriage) or a couple of drops. It can arrive every 2 weeks or every 2 months.
This means we dread going out, fear social occasions, can no longer wear light coloured clothes on our bottom halves, and some of us even have to carry a change of clothes and half the sanitary product aisle with us each time we leave the house. We might have a male boss or work in an environment where a sudden arrival from our ‘visitor’ is simply mortifying.
It doesn’t help that some of us never managed to have a child and now feel like mother nature is rubbing our faces in it one last time. Combine that with the fact that supermarkets think it’s perfectly acceptable to put sanitary products in the same aisle as all the baby stuff, and it all becomes one great big kick in the teeth. Sainsbury’s makes me feel as though I have totally failed as a woman, and I honestly have to take a big, deep breath before I can walk down the aisle that openly mocks me. (Another reason why I’m crabby when I do the food shop.)
Menopause can make women feel useless, that they no longer have a purpose or feel less womanly. It could be the loss of hormones, the fact that we can no longer bear a child, or maybe our kids are growing up and leaving home at a time when our body feels like it’s failing us. But keep an eye on us – I lost a woman in my life a while back, and was too young at the time to realise that she ended her life because she could no longer cope with her menopause symptoms. She was a strong, family-orientated woman and it shocks me even after all this time that she saw no other way out. It’s only now that I can understand her pain.
Everything is Too Hot
I’m afraid you are going to have to man up for a while and put a bloody jumper on. We truly are hot stuff and the struggle is real.
We are not flinching away from you at the slightest touch because we don’t love you anymore. We are just struggling to control our inner thermostat and you are not helping. By touching us or cuddling us in a warm moment, you are sending our heat levels to ‘hell’s furnace’ as we struggle to regulate our own temperature, let alone the addition of yours.
For years you have been moaning at us to turn the heating down, and now you are moaning at us because we have. We can’t win, can we? But right now we are hot stuff in bed, and not in the way you’d like … easy tiger! We will wake up in the night drenched in our own sweat. We will sleep on top of the covers, naked, in a room that you complain is like an icebox but we will still be too hot.
Put a jumper on and move away from the fans and open windows. Snuggle up under a fluffy throw on the sofa – we’ll even join you in between the blasts of heat.
We Feel Awkward and Ugly
In our teens we felt gangly and awkward as we got taller and grew boobs. Once the greasy hair and spotty face phase had passed, we spent a couple of decades pretty content with who we were and what we looked like … although probably didn’t appreciate it enough at the time.
You will have fallen in love with us in that confident phase, when the world was at our feet and we felt invincible. Together, we have taken on everything life has thrown at us and got through the other side. Just as we have got all our shit together, perimenopause kicks in and fucks it all up again.
We get forgetful and it scares us. We start to experience aches and pains in our bodies. We get clumsy and worry about falling over. Our weightloss struggles accelerate to a full scale war as we suddenly find it impossible to lose weight no matter how hard we try. In a cruel twist, the hair on the tops of our heads will start to fall out in huge clumps each time we brush our hair, yet stubble will sprout on our chins and necks at a speed to rival your own facial hair growth.
Feeling ugly, bloated and hairy (in the wrong places) and often sweating buckets, our confidence is lost as we feel bald and ugly. We then question how you can love us if we hate what we see in the mirror. Don’t be afraid to remind us we are beautiful. We probably don’t want sex with you either right now, so don’t get all flirty with us. Just be kind, make us feel special, stroke our ego and not our boobs (they are sprouting hairs too).
It’s Not Forever
While you need to be prepared for the long haul, this is not forever. It’s a transition and we need to know you’ve got our backs. Perimenopause is the stage before menopause and I’m afraid this shit-show can last for up to 10 years! But don’t be alarmed. My symptoms arrived in stealth, so I was a good 2 or even 3 years into it before I knew what it was.
And don’t think it’s all over because we haven’t had a period for a few months. This is all a bit of a guessing game, and we aren’t officially in ‘menopause’ until we have not had a period for 12 months. Each woman is going to experience things differently, so comparing notes with your male friends or what your Mum or Sister went through won’t really help. We all have different tolerance levels and coping mechanisms.
You might think we are just looking forward to a feeling of relief that we will no longer have periods, but to be honest it’s not that simple. There are so many things we need to cope with – my first signs were forgetfulness and right now I can only describe how I feel as being in a puberty/dementia mash-up. This is going to take a while and it’s a bit of a crappy process for us both I’m afraid.
We hope this has given you a bit of an insight, chaps. We totally appreciate that you feel like you are tiptoeing blind through a perimenopausal-minefield with nobody yelling at you when you need to duck for cover. Bear with us – this isn’t forever. We might not be ourselves at the moment, but it’s no picnic for us either. Be our rock, our guiding light, a hand to hold (if it’s cool enough) and our shoulder to weep on.
With a bit of understanding (and giving us a wide berth now and then), we’ll get through this together and eventually you’ll get your better half back again. We want her back as much as you do!