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Help for "Meno Mama"

Suddenly I said something in a sharp tone of voice. None of my three young adult daughters said a word. I hadn't meant to speak sharply. But I couldn't think of a good way to apologize and correct the matter.

I wanted to burst out crying, but this was no time to get carried away. Our friends could arrive for dinner at any minute and we still had much to do. My emotions were out of control.

Sensing my predicament, one of the girls teasingly, but lovingly, said, "Oh, Mom, you're just acting like a 'Meno Mama!'" And we all laughed together. Her comment broke the tension and helped me out of a tense spot--and to offer an apology.

That nickname has stuck. Jim and the girls have found it to be a gentle way to warn me when I'm starting to unravel. And many times I've called myself "Meno Mama" to get out of awkward moments.

So what about the Meno Mama at your house? Has she gone off her rocker? Are you wondering what's happening? She used to be strong and calm, the one you counted on. Now she falls apart, thinks only of herself, and is crabbing at you all the time. When she isn't angry, she's crying. What's going on? The family knows it might be time for menopause, but why all this fuss?


She wasn't being cantankerous when she flinched as you were driving; she was sure you hadn't seen that car from the side street! She's not just being emotional--this jumpiness has a physical, biological cause.



My main objective in this article is to help you--the husband and children of a menopausal woman--understand a little about menopause so that you can get through this time with your sanity and your relationships intact.

Your Meno Mama needs you. Her whole world may be upside-down, but you can help. Her hormones are unbalanced, but something can be done about it. Other physical and emotional parts of her may be out of kilter, so encourage her to get help.

My husband wonders why menopause isn't called "women-o-pause." And I wonder why it's called "pause" when it's never going to start up again. The reproductive system will no longer function once menopause has occurred. This also means that the hormones, estrogen and progesterone, cannot be produced by the ovaries--thus, many body functions and systems are changed.

Hot Flashes & Other Craziness

Hot flashes are often one of the early symptoms of menopause. Dizziness, heart palpitations, tingling skin, and jumpiness may also occur.

She wasn't being cantankerous when she flinched as you were driving; she was sure you hadn't seen that car from the side street! She's not just being emotional--this jumpiness has a physical, biological cause.

Eventually, other physical changes also will be noticeable. Her skin, tissues, and membranes become thin and dry. She is more prone to vaginal and urinary irritation and infection. She may leak urine when she sneezes, coughs, or jumps. Vaginal lubrication may drastically decrease and tissues become thin and fragile so that intercourse may become painful. In time, the shape and size of the vagina will be become smaller so that intercourse may be impossible. Don't go into panic! Intervention and prevention are available.

"Meno Mama" may also have a war going on in her muscles and joints. She may be tired all the time, and she may not be sleeping well.


The natural aging processes which affect both men and women--changing body shape, wrinkles, gray hair, and loss of strength and stamina--occur more rapidly in postmenopausal women!



When estrogen declines, a woman's emotional/psychological functioning is also affected and her feelings are less dependable than the weather. One moment she feels intensely angry at things that never upset her and the next moment she is choking back tears. She may be insecure, suspicious, and jealous. Anxiety sweeps over her like an unwanted blast of cold air.

The immediate menopausal symptoms, which can last from a year to many years are bad enough, but a woman's future health is also greatly at risk. With the decline of estrogen, she is much more apt to become a victim of osteoporosis, the deteriorating bone disease which affects from one-third to one half of all postmenopausal women.

The risk for heart disease also rises after menopause, so that a woman is as likely to have a heart attack or stroke as men are. The natural aging processes which affect both men and women--changing body shape, wrinkles, gray hair, and loss of strength and stamina--occur more rapidly in postmenopausal women!

What You Can Do To Help

Assure your wife or mother that she is normal. Don't tell her that she is just being weak or wanting sympathy. Avoid making her feel guilty. The worst thing you can do is to say--or imply--that she is spiritually or psychologically deficient. Instead, take a deep breath, murmur a prayer for wisdom, and gently stand alongside her. She needs your non-condemning friendship. She will someday be her rational, caring self again. She might even be better than before!

Urge your wife or mother to see a good doctor who will work with her in managing her menopausal symptoms. If the first doctor isn't a help, encourage her to find another. Good medical help is out there, but sometimes you have to persist in looking for it.

If her doctor feels she is a candidate for estrogen replacement therapy, stand behind the idea 100%. Following are some of the benefits of estrogen replacement therapy:

  • Emotional and psychological stabilization
  • Elimination of hot flashes
  • Reduction of tissue deterioration (fewer wrinkles, healthier urinary and vaginal areas)
  • Maintenance of sexual libido
  • Prevention/reduction of osteoporosis (bone deterioration)
  • Prevention/reduction of heart attack and stroke


Help your wife or mother with her physical work. For decades, many women have been doing most of the housework, working outside the home part-time or full-time, and carrying the responsibility for helping the family flourish. This is a good time for you to take on more of that.



Give her at least one genuine compliment a day. Assure her you believe in her and she's going to come through this time a better woman. She'll fulfill your prophecy!



You can also be her biggest emotional booster. She may lack the inner strength to carry responsibility which she formerly did so easily. Urge her to rest when she has the need. Give her "permission" to do some things which will nourish and replenish her spirit.

Be sensitive to what she needs. Sometimes she will want time with you--sometimes she'll need to be alone. At times she'll want to be with a big crowd of people--other times to withdraw. Don't be dismayed, she'll eventually get back into balance.

Encourage her to follow her dreams. Tell her what you see as her strengths and abilities. Point out her opportunities. Do your part to make it possible for her to move into God's plan for her in this new era of life.

Your input is crucial for your wife or mother's self-image. During menopause, and the years following, self-esteem can shrivel like a mushroom in the sun.

  • Give her at least one genuine compliment a day.
  • Hug her.
  • Show positive attitudes toward her. Treat her with dignity.
  • Give her an accurate, positive reflection of her strengths and capabilities.
  • Assure her you believe in her and she's going to come through this time a better woman. She'll fulfill your prophecy!


You have a big assignment--to help your Meno Mama, but not an impossible one. God has made her to be a special woman. Be sure to tell her that often, and encourage her with these ideas:

"I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in His grace until His task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns" (Phil. 1:6, The Living Bible).


by Sally Christon Conway

Conway / Farrel Articles ~    Reprint by permission only,  ©2011

Midlife Dimensions ~ www.Midlife.com

  

The Conways and Farrels are international speakers and popular authors.

Midlife Dimensions is a ministry founded by the Conways and continued by the Farrels.