When a woman reaches puberty, she goes through 35 years of fertility and then goes to menopause which means end of menstrual flow, hence inability to have children.
Menopause occurs on the average at age 50 but it can be as early as 30s in some cases. The age of menopause actually depends on many factors including age of first menstruation.
The earlier a woman menstruates the higher her chances of starting menopause early.
Signs of menopause
Menopause is a life transition that can affect a woman physically and mentally. Some women do not experience any sign of menopause but about 80 per cent of women experience uncomfortable symptoms.
Your body experiences fluctuating hormones that can cause hot flashes, night sweats, itching skin, migraine, breast tenderness, vaginal dryness and insomnia. Some have back pain, mood swings, muscle pain, frequent urination, poor bladder control and fatigue. In some cases, women experience midlife obesity.
Some women have symptoms of early pregnancy and may claim to be pregnant for a couple of years. Some get psychological problems and may claim to be witches.
In fact, the majority of our Ghanaian women in witches’ camps are women who have gone through depression with menopause.
Effect of menopause on marriage
During menopause, a woman’s brain also undergoes changes. According to Dr Louann Brezendine, a menopause specialist, during menopause, the woman’s brain unplugs and ends hormones that boosts communication circuits, emotional circuits and interest in sex.
Again according to Dr Wendy Klein, another menopause specialist, a woman in menopause taking medications such as antidepressants may have increased lack of sexual desire.
Menopause may also cause marital disaffection and wreck in marriage. As the number of symptoms increase, so does marital dissatisfaction.
The pain associated with sex, coupled with dropping libido, cause romance in marriage to fall by the wayside.
Sadly, many husbands misinterpret symptoms such as lack of libido and vaginal dryness to mean disinterest or rejection. And many women get frustrated by the insensitivity of their men and opt for divorce.
No wonder a study done by AARP magazine in the US showed that 60 per cent of divorces initiated by women belong to those in menopause.
Can your marriage survive menopause?
Studies show menopause can impact your marriage in surprising ways. The good news is that the overall picture is more positive than the perception that menopause is bad.
Even though menopause changes a woman’s body, which may decrease enjoyment of sex, reduced libido, difficulty with orgasm, studies show these don’t necessarily lead to sexual dysfunction or quality of sex life.
Again, many associate menopause to less sex but studies show it does not have to be this way. Some women continue to enjoy sex and some even more during menopause because they are happy, may be relaxed during retirement and do not fear getting pregnant.
Studies show women in happy marriages are less affected by menopause than singles or those in bad marriages. The more distressful a marriage, the greater the menopausal problems. This means handling menopause is not a solo act but duet—husband and wife.
Therefore, instead of a man worrying about menopause, he must face the challenge by loving his woman and communicating effectively with his woman.
Listen to her and be compassionate. Don’t criticise her, try to fix her. Be romantic. Ask her what she needs to feel better. Give her gifts.
Always remember that a woman does not separate sex from the care you give outside the bedroom. The quality of your marriage is key to a woman overcoming the challenges of menopausal life.
Can your marriage survive menopause?
Yes it can; you must but pay attention to all the potential impediments that threaten your marriage.
There are 50 million women in North America currently facing menopause with most of them facing at least five related symptoms but life goes on.
The advice is simple; see menopause as life transition that all women go through but a happy marriage covers all the negative variables in menopause and in fact all the challenges in marriage.
Therefore, create a thriving and passionate marriage you can lean on at all times and menopausal effect will not count.
If you are prepared and willing, your marriage will survive it. Never allow your marriage to die with menopause.