How To Talk About Menopause With Your Family

Family members often have questions about menopause and want to understand what their wives or mothers are going through. It can be a difficult topic to have an open dialog about. Many couples and families do not know how to talk about their mom/spouse’s symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. This week on Fox17, Dr.Bitner shares tips on how to have an open dialog around menopause. 

Fact #1

Women often feel shame during menopause. The social stigma surrounding menopause can cause women to feel alone and embarrassed of this normal stage of life. The physical symptoms can lead to frustrations and a loss of control over their body. Moreover, because of the menopause education gap and societal views, many women feel isolated and unsupported as they navigate these changes and emotions. 

Fact #2

Many family members begin noticing the signs of menopause. Loved ones may recognize physical and emotional symptoms such as:

The women in your life may struggle with these symptoms and may not know how to discuss them with you. Your support can help her navigate these changes more comfortably during this normal but challenging stage in her life. 

Fact #3

Having good habits can ease symptoms of menopause. Here are a few habits that are important for overall wellness and that are essential to prioritize when your body is going through big changes like menopause. 

  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Getting enough of the right nutrients (carbs/protein/fats)
  • Including fiber-rich foods to your diet
  • Taking vitamins
  • Prioritizing sleep
  • Getting active
  • Focusing on the Mind and Body Connection

Fact #4

There are treatment options. Women often struggle to find treatment or support from medical professionals during this transitional time. The first step to treatment is having an open dialog with your doctor. If they are unable to help, find a doctor who specializes in menopause. By advocating for yourself, you can begin to work with your doctor by evaluating your symptoms, discussing both hormonal and nonhormonal options, and creating a plan together. 

Fact #5

Supporting the women in your life begins with a conversation. By approaching the subject with genuine curiosity, compassion, and maybe a little humor, you can both begin to feel comfortable discussing the subject. Try asking:

  • “I know this can be a stressful time; how can I help?”
  • “I would like to know more about how menopause is affecting you. Could you tell me more?
  • “ I love you and want to be there for you.” 

All of these can help to open dialog between you both and make her feel seen and supported.

Patient story:

Jane, 41, was very rude toward everyone. She lacked confidence and felt frustrated by her body’s recent changes Not sleeping well, feeling more anxious, and having hot flashes led her to be irritable all the time. She knew her family was noticing but didn’t know how to bring it up. Jane felt powerless.

Jane’s husband said to her, “My friends were all talking, and our wives are having the same issues, and we don’t know what to do to help. What is going on, Jane? You are always irritated at us and in a bad mood. I want to help,  let’s talk about it.” 

Jane said she did not know much either about perimenopause but wanted to find a doctor who could help. She expressed that she was grateful he had brought it up and shared more about how she felt.

Several weeks later, Jane had an appointment and began learning more about treatment options and lifestyle changes she could make to alleviate symptoms. She was beginning to feel hopeful and was happy to have support from her family.

Her doctor also told her that men go through the same changes, just about 10-15 years later than most women, with belly fat, mood changes, and lower energy. She was grateful she knew and would be prepared to support her husband during that time. 

Takeaway Tip:

It is important to know your phase of ovarian function so you are informed about what is going on with your body and why. Remember that you are not alone. Begin the conversation with your family and doctor to help you navigate this change of life together

 Watch the full segment Here