Is Menopause Ruining Your Relationships?

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By Linda Melone | Published December 12, 2014 on NextAvenue.org | Featuring Sheryl Ross

Hormonal changes that accompany menopause affect everyone, not just the woman going through them.

“Estrogen levels can fluctuate unpredictably, which can cause dramatic emotional highs and lows,” says Dr. Sheryl Ross, an OB/GYN at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif. “Mood swings, depression, anxiety, anger, rage and crying fits are normal and very common.”

This can create a lot of frustration, Ross says. “Those whom you love and who love you the most — your children and husband — are often blindsided by this normal biological event that affects all women.”

Depression and anxiety may cause some women to withdraw or lash out at those around them. Loved ones can become frightened or confused about how to deal with a woman experiencing emotional outbursts. Sexual partners may find that a woman’s sex drive is not as strong, which can affect intimacy.

An awareness of these changes and learning how to cope can go a long way toward preventing relationship issues.

See Your Doctor

If you are struggling with relationship challenges associated with menopause, it’s a good idea to see your doctor. She or he can rule out other possible causes of the mood swings, such as thyroid abnormalities or clinical depression.

“Don’t wait if emotional upheaval is new to you,” Ross says. “If you and those around you understand that there is a medical explanation and treatment options are available, it can be more reassuring.”

Once a woman accepts that aging is a process and its outcomes are part of the journey, a couple can make lifestyle and relational adjustments that suit their circumstances, says Jessica O’Reilly, a sexologist and author.

“A sense of humor and a bit of creativity can go a long way,” she says. “One couple I know started getting frisky more often with the onset of hot flashes. She joked that she was on fire and he’d run her a cool shower (and join her) or meet her in bed with ice cubes.”

Eight other ways to reduce the impact of menopause on a relationship: | | | Next → |

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