An Irish GP is on a drive to inform partners of women going through the menopause as to the often-devastating emotional effects it can cause.
Menopause specialist, Dr Deirdre Forde, founder of Céile Medical in Athlone, says there is a huge need to inform and educate partners about the impacts menopause can have and may save relationships from unnecessary breakdown.
“The menopause is definitely the last big ‘taboo’. While it may have concentrated the minds of some of our greatest physicians and philosophers throughout the ages, it was couched in mystery, misunderstanding and mistrust.”
‘Accused of being witches’
“In less enlightened times, women were literally seen as going mad. It was terrible. They were locked away, locked up and often even burned at the stake, accused of being witches!”
“Now while we have, thankfully, evolved from that, there is still huge misunderstanding around the menopause and the huge upheaval it can cause in a woman’s life and by default, in her partners and families lives.”
“Untreated menopause is seismic; the mood swings can be absolutely horrendous and can cause even the most mild-mannered woman to snap, literally.”
“What is basically a hormonal imbalance can wreak havoc with women’s personalities. Then, the poor partner then is left scratching his or her head, not knowing what is going on.”
Symptoms of menopause
“Meanwhile, the woman going through menopause is navigating her way, perhaps, through a mix of hot flushes, weight gain, anxiety, thinning hair, dry skin, fatigue, loss of libido or any of the 34 nasty symptoms that can be part and parcel of this life stage.”
“Also, menopause usually occurs at a time when a woman may be flying in her career. She might have important responsibilities workwise and family-wise as she may be caring for elderly relatives.”
“So, she is dealing with lots of pressure at a time when untreated menopause is making her feel as if she can’t cope. It’s really a perfect storm.”
“In the main, men haven’t a clue what’s going on leading to relationship difficulties and breakdowns. Even friendships can be damaged as there are the fortunate women, around 20% or so who are not severely impacted by menopause at all, and they may wonder why their friend has changed so much.”
“They may be dismissive of the huge upheaval their friend is going through as they’re not going through it themselves.”
‘I hate to see unnecessary suffering’
Dr Forde goes on to say “It’s not known as the ‘change ‘for nothing. Women may feel that having gone through years of child-bearing, child-rearing, and generally nurturing and caring for everybody else around them it is time for them to nurture and care for themselves. This for some may mean changing their whole way of life, even initiating divorce proceedings”.
“I’m not exaggerating when I say that; I have experienced patients who had done that. LGBT women need to be educated around menopause also. They may be completely unaware of why their partner is so moody and out of form.”
“I am determined to inform the people of Ireland as I hate to see unnecessary suffering, and with the right treatment, women going through all stages of Menopause can blossom. It can be a wonderful time of freedom for them”.
“In Japan, menopause is known as the ‘Second Spring’ which I think is lovely; it conjures up renewal, regeneration and revitalisation. That is what I am really hoping for our menopausal women in Ireland.”
“Menopause matters and we need to talk about it, deal with it and grow with it.”
“My plea to the women of Ireland is don’t go through menopause alone. There is help and hope out there, and once your partner has some idea of what is happening, then he or she will be able to support you.”
“What you’re experiencing is just part of a new stage in life so embrace it and educate yourself and your partners about it to enable you to deal with it in its entirety and bloom.”