Whilst menopause is a totally natural life transition it can be a difficult time for many women.
The physical changes and symptoms can be pervasive and disruptive. So often the timing is significant as it can coincide with the children growing up and possibly flying the nest so an element of re-evaluation of life, roles and routine can be mixed up with this change. For some the combination of their own hormonal changes can clash with teenage daughters or occur at times of heightened stress levels such as exam time when home life is already particularly fraught.
Menopause signals the end of fertility, which can be a relief for some women if their periods have been problematic and for others it may herald more relaxed intimate relationships. However, even when a woman has thought her family complete, having the choice of further children removed can be unsettling and create difficult feelings around what it means to be a woman now that child -bearing is no longer a possibility. Early menopause brings its own set of issues as it can eliminate the chance of having further or any children and there may be additional illnesses associated with this early onset.
The side-effects and symptoms of going through the menopause (being peri-menopausal) can have negative effects on health and well-being and relationships can also suffer. Many women have broken sleep with a knock-on effect for the partner and feeling tired and run down can heighten emotions and make life more difficult to cope with. Women can feel anxious, irritable, tired, and experience mood swings. Menopause can often cause a magnification of pre-existing problems and issues as energy is depleted, affecting coping mechanisms. There can be changes to sexual desire with some women experiencing physical symptoms that make sex painful or uncomfortable. Self-esteem can suffer, with the effects of medication, lack of sleep and thinning hair causing negative self -image.
Fortunately, most symptoms can be overcome with medical or alternative therapies and there is a wide range of help available. However, even today, the menopause can be a difficult topic to raise and there may also be an expectation from Health Care Professionals that you just have to ‘get through it’.
Alongside any medical help you access, counselling can assist by providing a non-judgmental environment in which to discuss and explore the difficult emotions that may be connected with the menopause. Some couples may also benefit from couples therapy at this time, which provides a platform from which to discuss the changes they are experiencing.
Debbie Kelly MSc is an experienced counsellor working in Basingstoke in North Hampshire. She sees clients experiencing life challenges concerning anxiety, depression, work stress, grief and bereavement, relationship difficulties and miscarriage/pregnancy loss.
Contact Debbie on 07590 572866 or email to arrange a free 20 minute introductory meeting.