, Talk to your friends in menopause
Going through menopause can be lonely.
When we first start to get some of the issues related to perimenopause (often referred to as menopause symptoms), we are not even aware that we are starting the menopausal journey. It is quite possible to put such issues down to stress or other causes.
A survey found that half the women in the UK who experienced menopause do not consult with a doctor or healthcare professional for any of their menopause issues.
For some of us, hot flashes start to make life quite uncomfortable. You suddenly feel like you are on fire, and there is no escape! For others, insomnia takes your nights over, and you toss and turn without being able to get the sleep you need—mood swings, unexplained sadness, hair thinning, joint pains, on and on. There are over 40 different symptoms related to menopause.
More than the physical symptoms, we often link symptoms to other things because we do not want to think that we are in menopause.
Are you kidding me, I am only 40! I am still too young.. menopause happens to other women. Menopause??!!
Menopause is a scary prospect when seen as the beginning of the end of fertility and desirability. Women sometimes do not speak about it even to their closest friends for fear of being seen as older or aging.
What does research say?
However, research shows, again and again, that sharing with others reduces stress and anxiety and social connections are the best markers of good health and longevity.
Speaking to your friends about menopause helps to normalize the transition you are going through. It is part of what you can do to take better care of yourself in this time and a bridge towards better health and wellbeing.
Remember, each woman is different, and every woman will experience menopause in her own way. While you experience quite severe issues in menopause, your friend may is not bothered by any major symptoms and may sail through it with ease. However, those women who experience almost no symptoms are a small minority.
Talking with your friends about what you are experiencing in menopause helps to lessen the pain of suffering on your own. It can also help to pool resources for finding solutions to some of the issues. You can share information about menopause, helpful hints, and articles. You can encourage each other to join in a group or act as a support for those times when you feel no one understands.
Talk to your friends in menopause.
How do you start a conversation about menopause?
Talk to your friends in menopause.
1- Find one or two friends who you feel comfortable with
Find people whose company you enjoy and who will be empathetic. Avoid those that joke around or make sarcastic comments about aging and the Change! As we get older, we become less tolerant of people who have negative energy and who make us feel depleted after every encounter. You know who we are talking about: those frenemies who are energy vampires.
Lose the frenemies! See only friends who make you know bring positive energy into your life.
2- Start small
Women are sometimes reluctant to admit to noticing clear signs of perimenopause, such as skipped periods or hot flashes. The conversation can focus on other aspects that may not be as clearly linked to menopause. A good way to start the conversation, for example, would be to mention that you are experiencing more hair loss than normal or finding it more difficult to go to sleep or to get enough sleep at night.
You may find that your friend(s) suggest solutions or even tell you that they are experiencing something similar. They may, themselves, mention menopause, or you might find a way to bring it up. Once the conversation starts, and your counterpart feels that you are willing to share your own experience, she will open up, and that can be the start of a supportive and close shared topic.
3- Be sensitive to your friend’s needs
Everyone needs to feel heard.
In a conversation with a friend about menopause, it is as important to ask questions as to share information.
To make the conversation flow, you can start by mentioning a difficulty you are experiencing, such as easily getting angry or irritated with those around you. Then, ask her if she finds that she is experiencing the same situation. Ask for advice. Listen. Look and sound interested.
4- Share resources
Many opportunities exist for new mothers to get together to help and support each other, but far fewer opportunities exist for women going through menopause. Getting together with friends, talking, and sharing resources helps to change that situation.
When you come across something that you think other women would find useful, you can tell them about it. You can set up a book-discussion meeting to talk about what you learnt and/or think about a book such as Dr. Christiane Northrup’s “The Wisdom of Menopause” or other books that you might come across and find valuable.
You can share information about gadgets or clothing that you find useful. Sometimes, you can just listen sympathetically as a friend tells you about her latest meltdown because her husband did not remember to get a carton of milk on his way back home from jogging! You can trade hair-care products advice. The important thing is to be there and to bridge the menopause silence.
5- Keep communication skills in mind
Communication skills are useful in general. It is useful to keep those skills in mind when you are having a conversation with a friend. If you feel particularly irritable and short-tempered, tell your friend at the beginning of the meeting that you are not feeling 100% that day and ask her to be extra patient with you. Always remember that there is more than one side to each story, and how you look at something may be very different from the other person. Read more about communication skills here.
Talking about menopause may be difficult initially, but it is well worth the effort to create a group of 2 or 3 friends (or even just one) with whom you can have honest discussions about the challenges as you go through them. This group will be your go-to support group for when you need a different perspective or just a proverbial shoulder to cry on. They will understand because they know what a woman’s body endures. They have experienced changes in hormones, and they may also be going through the same thing with you.
Find those women and strengthen your bonds of friendship with them.
Read more about communication in menopause.