You must have seen the grid on Facebook that shows you how to safely respond to the hormonal women in your life? There are five scenarios, for example, being asked to respond when she asks: "How do I look in this new dress?" and five columns describing the possible responses, rating them as safest, safe, dodgy and highly dangerous. The safest response to everything listed is "Here, have some wine."
This gag causes much hilarity on social media, but if you're a man in a hormonal woman's world, particularly a woman in her mid forties to early fifties, the chances are it's the menopause you are dealing with. And that's nooooooo laughing matter. The common hormonal change affects 50% of all women and has a dehibilitating effect on at least half of those - with career, lifestyle and relationships all at serious risk due to the anxiety, depression, anger, lack of sleep, etc.
Sounds like hell for all concerned right? Fear not, because we have unearthed The Menopause Lady AKA Kathryn Colas, a 64 year old menopause guru who learned the hard way - and is here to stop you doing the same. "I had a horrendous early menopause aged 45 and I lost my mind, my job... nearly my husband," tells a now calm Kathryn. "We nearly threw away 30 years of marriage and it was needless - if we had just had better information and been a bit more honest about how we were feeling, we could have found a solution much faster. We are determined to help others not suffer like we did." Here are Kathryn's top tips for becoming the Don in all things menopause...
1 Understand the science bit
You may recall, at puberty, when you, were a rebellious teenager? Angry, moody, strange hormones zinging through your body? Something similar happens to women at menopause - but instead of all those hormones rushing in, they're on a slow march out the door. But it's the same confusing effect. Kathryn says: "The fact is, a menopausal woman no longer has any eggs, and there is no further need for all her hormones such as oestrogen to continue as they have before. The brain then starts sending the wrong messages all over the place which can, quite frankly, send her round the bend."
2 Get your checklist out
Know your menopause symptoms: hot flushes, night sweats, palpitations, mood swings, loss of libido, dry vagina, anxiety - and ascertain what your other half is going through and rate how distressing they are. If they are annoying but she can just about cope with them, chances are hers is a "normal" menopause, which means she probably won't need hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and can manage the change with an improved diet, lifestyle changes - more rest, more focus on key areas etc, and perhaps a natural supplement like black cohort or red clover isoflavones in a product like Promensil. The latter is clinically proven to alleviate mild-medium menopause symptoms.
However, you'll know if your partner has more than "just irritating" symptoms. "I went from being a creative, ambitious professional who thrived on the job - to sitting on the floor and weeping with despair overnight," Kathryn tells. If thats the case, book your missus an appointment with your GP. She may need HRT or other solutions. Offer her a glass of wine. Make it a bottle.
3 Talk, talk and talk some more
"I can't do this anymore!" "I don't know who I am!" "How can you love me when I'm like this?" etc. Its rough being on the other end of this tirade on a daily basis, from someone who seems to have lost the plot and can't seem to stand the sight of you. Literally. "If women are going through night sweats, they basically can't bear you being near them," tells Kathryn helpfully. This coupled with a lack of libido can leave everyone at an all time emotional and physical low. But before you reach for the number of a solicitor and start labelling your assets, Kathryn urges: don't give up, keep talking. "Its a long and arduous journey but it is transitional and it will end," urges Kathryn. "You're in it for the long haul. Don't end up another divorce statistic!"