Menopause is the decline of reproductive hormones which usually occurs when a woman reaches the age range of the 40s and 50s. Just like puberty, menopause is also one of the major developmental changes that a woman goes through and hence, she needs proper care and nurturance during this period too. It is a response to ageing which involves symptoms like a decline in physical and mental capacity, periodic sweating, depression, insomnia, impaired memory, lack of concentration, nervousness, weight gain, vision change, skin change and bone-joint complaints (Heinemann, Ruebig, & Potthoff, 2004). Symptoms of menopause vary in degree and are universal (Obermeyer, 2000).
Menopause is a process and only a part of the change that takes place during midlife. The process has 5 stages – a. symptoms expectation; b. experiencing symptoms and sense of no control; c. confirming to menopause; d. regaining control; e. menstruation freedom. The freedom from menstruation is marked by changes in social relationships like partner, parent-child and workplace (Ballard, Kuh, & Wadsworth, 2001).
There are a number of treatments that are available for menopause. A few of them are – pharmacotherapy like medicine modalities and dietary supplements; hormonal therapy; and self-care therapy which involves meditation, relaxation, yoga and mild exercises. There are also beneficial outcomes of walking programs (Sydora, Turner, Malley, Davenport, Yuksel, Shandro & Ross, 2020).
Majority of men do not have adequate knowledge about menopause and the transitions that their wives go through. Due to this lack of knowledge about menopause and health care status, men may have different attitudes towards their wives as they cannot cope with the psychological, biological and physiological changes that their wives go through. Menopause is marked by the reduced sexual urge and sexual intercourse or activity as a result of which various marital relationships suffer (Zhang, Wang, Wang, Wang, Ji, Hou, Zhu,2020). The attitude and perception of their spouses towards menopause affect women’s quality of life.
Fewer menopausal symptoms are also associated with higher family support and resilience (Zhao, Liu, Feng, Hou, Xu & Li, 2018). Intervention programs like training spouses about menopausal health and incorporating educational programs could improve women’s quality of life. Quality of marital relations could also be improved if a husband understands the changes his wife goes through during menopause. It not only fosters the development of emotional support but also the sense of belongingness (Caçapava Rodolpho, Cid Quirino, Komura Hoga & Lima Ferreira Santa Rosa, 2016). Husbands can also accompany their wives in exercise, yoga, meditation and walk, thereby increasing and improving upon the quality time spent between the spouses too.
Leisure, which is defined as free time or the ‘me time’ where one is not occupied with work, has many benefits in dealing with menopause. General health, which constitutes of physical and emotional well-being, is improved through physically active leisure. Leisure activities not only provide with a sense of security, continuity and familiarity but also help women to embrace their interests, be more self -focused and change the attitude towards one-self (Parry & Shaw,1999). A family, especially a husband and children, should ensure that no matter what, sufficient leisure time is given to a woman going through the stage of menopause.
Psychosocial symptoms of menopause include anxiety, lack of self-esteem and more vulnerability towards depression. This also impacts women’s work lives. The negative self-image construed about oneself as a result of menopause could be improved upon with the support of family. Children and husband should be sensitized and made aware of various helping aids like virtual consultation, participation in online communities of support and therapeutic interventions. It saves time and increases awareness of menopause in society too, instead of just within a particular family (Cronin, Hungerford, Wilson, 2020).
Educating premenopausal women, i.e. those of around 45years of age and their spouses together, could also make a remarkable difference in the reduction of menopausal symptoms. Educational intervention programs may include group discussion about menopause, various stress management techniques and selecting adequate health behaviours like diet & exercise while avoiding health risk behaviours like smoking & alcohol consumption. It also helps in selecting correct treatment choices (Hunter & Dea, 1999).
It should be emphasized here that merely understanding the symptoms of menopause is not enough; spouses should also help in dealing with the symptoms and creating menopause another beautiful journey of life.