You shouldn’t have to go through early menopause alone. Dealing with the emotional side of your diagnosis can be much less harsh if you’re surrounded by supportive and loving people.
This helpsheet will explain how your partner can work together with you through this change. At a time like this, strong relationships can make all the difference in your ability to cope.
Going through premature ovarian failure (POF) or early menopause (EM) isn’t only an individual process. It also affects those around you… especially your partner. And, in turn, his reaction may have an enormous effect on you.
Dealing with your partner — and his dealing with you — is a very special, sometimes very helpful, sometimes very difficult, element in coping with POF or EM.
Even if your husband is extremely supportive, you may find that early menopause puts new stresses on your relationship.
You may feel guilty because of your condition — or angry because he can’t fathom how you’re feeling. You may worry that he won’t love you anymore. He might not understand why you’re crying so much, or where the anger and feeling of loss is coming from. You both may feel confused, concerned, and crazed by the change in your life.
In many ways, POF or early menopause becomes another partner in your relationship, a new factor that you — and he — aren’t used to dealing with. When you go through such a major a transition, by necessity, your partner goes through it too, even though it’s not happening to him personally. So it is important to understand what you may confront in your relationship and how to deal with the changes that your change is causing.
“He Doesn’t Understand”: How To Communicate What You’re Going Through
Thoughts From The EarlyMenopause.com Community
I’ve been extremely lucky, in that my husband has always been 110% supportive. When he proposed to me, I told him that I would not marry him if having his own children was important to him.
Deep down I knew then. He somehow kept his sanity amidst me losing mine, he remained caring, loving, and understanding through my search for my lost libido. He’s been wonderful for me!
— Steph, age 29
• Teach him about POF or early menopause
If your partner doesn’t know what your body is going through and how it is affecting your moods and psyche, he won’t be able to give you the support and understanding you vitally need in this time.
Give him books to read, direct him to websites, such as this one, so he can truly understand what this condition is and how it affects your body and emotions.
• Give your partner concrete suggestions for helping you cope
You know better than he what you need. Tell him. If you are having terrible night sweats and need to have a window open at night, explain that this will help you get a least a little sleep. If you need a hug, need to be reassured that you are still an attractive woman, be honest and let him know.
Often your husband wants to do the right thing to help you out, but doesn’t know what it is that he should do. Be explicit — and you’ll both be happier for it.
• Be sure he doesn’t feel that he is being lost in the shuffle
Sometimes when you are going through this, you are so wrapped up on yourself, your sense of loss or traumatic change, that you forget that your partner has needs and feelings too. You’re just not as emotionally available as you used to be, which can cause stresses in your relationship.
So it’s important to reassure him and let him know that you still care. In any relationship, there comes a time when one person is needier than the other — and when you’re going through early menopause, you’re that person.
But don’t forget that your husband has needs and emotions as well — and he may be feeling somewhat rocked by the change in you, as you are. Again, talk to him and be sure that he doesn’t feel neglected.
• Keep him aware of your mood changes or physical symptoms so they don’t surprise him
If you feel yourself beginning to spin out of control — into a teary episode or a temperamental rage, let him know when you first get the signal.
This will enable him to know what to do — and, more importantly, what not to do. For example, if you feel nerves getting shot and your stress levels rise, give him a warning. This way you won’t wind up in an argument that starts for no real reason other than your hormonal symptoms.
Guilt and Your Partner: When You (or He) Feel Like You’ve Let Him Down
Thoughts From The EarlyMenopause.com Community
My husband was an only child and always missed having brothers and sisters, so he wanted us to have a big family. We have one son, but I know he is disappointed that, as it turns out, I can’t have the family he had dreamed about.
He doesn’t talk a lot about it, but I know he is upset about the situation. Sometimes I wonder if he blames me for not having children sooner. Sometimes I blame myself too. I worry that this will drive us apart.
— Lynda, age 34
• Work as a team in exploring alternative methods of having a child
If you want to pursue the options open to you in having a family, go over them with your partner.
For example, if you are considering donor eggs, be sure he too understands what is involved — and make an appointment for both of you to go to a fertility clinic to explore this. If adoption seems like the right thing for you, you can both go to agency open houses.
• If you feel that your relationship is suffering a great deal, consider couples counseling
Often a time of change rocks even the most stable relationship. If you think that your premature menopause is causing a problem you can’t work through on your own, it may make sense to see a family therapist to give you the means to handle it.
This story was written by Kathryn Petras (“The Premature Menopause Book”). Edited by EarlyMenopause.com.