The Menopause. A normal part of life, but one which can feel like a seemingly never-ending ordeal.
Hot flushes and night sweats are two of the most common physical symptom of the menopause. Duvet on, duvet off, duvet on, duvet off is a common night-time experience for many. There may be times when you dress warmly to face the cold outside, then find your internal heating system goes into overdrive and you need to peel away the layers – this can be embarrassing and irritating, as well as physically uncomfortable.
Sleep disturbance is also very common, whether connected to night sweats or not – and interrupted sleep can have a knock-on negative impact on mood. Feeling grumpy, tired, and perhaps also unsure what to do about feeling grumpy and tired, can coincide with other mood changes during the menopause and perimenopause. Many women describe feeling anxious or low in mood in ways that are totally unfamiliar to them – this can be frightening and disorientating.
And what about sex? Vaginal dryness is another common menopause symptom and can cause discomfort or pain during sex. For some women, the menopause impacts on sexual desire. It can be hard to know how to respond to these changes, including how to discuss them with a partner and make sense of what the menopause means for your sexual relationship.
Alongside the possibility of medical support for the menopause transition, for example, considering HRT or other medication options for managing symptoms, psychological therapy can be very helpful. Therapy can support you with tools and techniques to help you respond wisely and effectively to changes in mood and to frustrating and uncomfortable physical symptoms. It can provide a space to reflect on and make sense of the life transition that the menopause represents.
Therapy can also enable you to consider how you can respond to the impact on your sex life, whether by having individual therapy, or perhaps couple therapy if relationship challenges or changes in your sexual relationship have become hard to navigate. Psychological therapy can also help you address the impact on your sleep, if sleep has become significantly disrupted.
The menopause may be both a normal and very challenging stage of life, but the challenges it represents can be tackled practically and compassionately.