Friday, November 23, 2012

What a Man Should Know about Menopause

by Margaret Aranda, M.D. 

What are some important things that every husband should know about menopause and how it affects a woman? Well, I think the most important thing is that it may cause vaginal dryness, which leads to pain on intercourse. Some women complain that having sex feels 'like a knife stabbing me'. Really. It can hurt, and that's no fun for either partner. And there are other issues, too.

I have noticed, for example, that a postmenopausal woman can be talking to me at night, and indeed let's make that a ~ cool ~ night with a breeze.  Her upper lip and forehead are covered with sweat.  In fact, her upper eyebrows and neck glisten in the moonlight.  I innocently ask (during our conversation on menopause), "Do you get hot flashes?"

She says, "No, I never get hot flashes."

So I ask, "Do you have pain with intercourse?"  Well, no big response there.  I persist, "Do you enjoy sex?"  She scoffs, "I could take it or leave it.  I just have sex to make my husband happy, but if it was up to me, I wouldn't even have sex.  And I would not miss it."  She smiles ever so gently.  

So I back up again, "Well, why don't you enjoy it?"  
She thinks.  
She hesitates.  
I wait, patiently.  
"Well, I guess that it just doesn't feel good."  

Results are in from Menopause, The Blog, which you can Click Here to Read.  While millions of women in the USA may have vaginal atrophy from a decrease of estrogen production after menopause, only about an estimated 7% are getting treatment!  This is simply astounding to me!  If you are a husband and your wife is complaining that having sex hurts during menopause, then this affects you as a man. Studies show that a woman is reluctant to discuss the situation with her doctor, and doctors can be reluctant to discuss it with their patients. So what is a man to do?

Firstly, we are reminded once again that with education comes empowerment. Now that you know that your wife could be having this problem, it may be good to talk to her about it. It could be that a woman does not realize that she has vaginal dryness.  The change could have happened so gradually over the perimenopausal years, that she does not realize that she actually has pain on intercourse, or dyspareunia.   So let's just step back a moment and realize that vaginal dryness, vaginal atrophy, and pain on intercourse ~ all these things can happen.  It's ok.  

We just need to realize, like the perspiring woman who says she does not get hot flashes, that a woman's body continues to change with time. Men need to continue to be attuned to their woman's body.  Why? Because menopause can riddle a woman's life with insomnia, restlessness, agitation, depression, hot flashes by day, sweats by night, pain on intercourse, vaginal dryness, dry skin, and general irritability. To name a few.

Women can spend fully one-third of their lives in menopause.  
That's a long time to suffer unnecessarily. 
I know it affects you, because it has to affect you.
So we'd better get 'good' at being IN menopause, yes?  
Let's do!

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