Menopausal Lesbians

I got this email from a reader and didn’t really have any good advice to offer her. Her problem is that her girlfriend is going through menopause. Which as women, is something we are ALL going to go through eventually. To be more specific, the problem she is having is that her girlfriend is having some serious mood swings, so bad in fact, that it’s making life hard. She wrote to me hoping that either me or some of my amazingly intelligent readers might have some helpful advice and information on how to survive this phase in life.

The only experience I have so far with menopause has been my extremely horrible experience as a teenager when my mother was going through it. From that, I know that some women can become extremely difficult to be with. I think menopause cost my mother a lot of valuable relationships in her life because she didn’t have any medical help going through it. I’m no expert but I’ve heard that sometimes hormone replacement can really help a woman? But that scares me too because of the possible side affects. This email got to me because while I’m not there just yet, I am 7 years older then Remi and we’ve talked about how scary we both anticipate this part of life will be. So please, if anyone out there has some good advice, please let us know!


This article has 16 comments

  1. Ricki

    Unfortunately, I can relate. I’m also going through menopause now. Although my mood swings are stable, the hot flashes aren’t. When they hit hard, I wanna rip my clothes off in public. (Not in a sexy way.) My best advice, is to follow your “feminine intuition.” If you need to see a doc, do it. Having a support system also helps a lot. Eventually, you’ll be on the “other side,” where you can sleep at night without drenching the sheets.

  2. Sasha

    Thank you Ricki for you contribution. I think … From the lack of comments on this one, that its a topic women still aren’t comfortable talking about. Which is so weird to me! Especially among a community of women.

    I will give my two cents to the person who wrote in: maybe you can go with her to a doctor appointment and together ask her doctor what are your options for helping her go through this as easily as possible.

    Also, in private you two can do what couples like myself do where one partner is bipolar. We talk about everything! What my triggers are, what she can do to help and what is NOT her fault. By that I mean I basically apologize in advance for being a bitch and try to explain to her what’s going on in my head when I do lose control so that hopefully she’ll remember that I told her “when this happens its not you, I’m not mad at you, I’m just losing it and I’m sorry. Please stay away from me when I’m like that and know I love you and that me withdrawing from you is to protect you.”

    Basically I’m trying to say maybe you two can figure out a game plan of sorts when she’s not having a mood swing that will help both of you get through it when she does.

    Also for what it’s worth, yoga does amazing things for you and her!!! It has an amazing healing power to it. Try it. It’s something you can do as a couple and alone.

  3. Missyj

    My partner and I have a 19yr age difference and she has went through menopause. ( Thank the lawd its over!!!! ) Not sure if this will be of any help but her obgyn prescribed prozac and it really seemed to help with the moods. It most def wasn’t a cure all but It did help some. Sorry I couldn’t offer more advice as I think it varies with each person. Just keep some extra blankets around!!! lol.. I about froze to death! Plus you can hide under them if need be! Ha,ha…JK.

  4. Ricki

    Sasha, you’re welcome. I second, what you said about yoga. I try to have a positive attitude about menopause. Think of all the money that I’m saving, by not buying Midol and tampons;). I also don’t miss the uncomfortable cramps, copious zits, and annoying PMS. I want to embrace being a crazy crone, and become a mentor to younger women. Menopause is just another rite of passage, not a death sentence.

  5. Stacy

    I asked my mother for advice and she didn’t seem to know what would be good for her own self:P So we have to use the basic rules of standing by our partner.

    1. Put yourself in her position. You know her, you must understand exactly which part of her symptoms is the one that annoys her. My mood has been swinging all my life, this would not be my problem! It would be the sweating thing, I would feel so out of sex appeal. Taking a nice bath with my girl every day when I get home, and have her walk me to the doctor would be the solution for me. And yeah doctors and pills can help a lot.

    2.Let her describe her situation to you and listen carefully. People are crazy, putting ourselves in our girl’s shoes will never be enough! Don’t think that you know her, even she didn’t know this part of her.

    3.Ask her what she needs you to do. Offer your help as a proof that you are still in love with her, not as if you are just being kind and sympathetic.

    4.Go shopping. Make her feel fresh and young and loveable. She may feel that menopause means that she is aging. Tell her that she can give it any meaning she wants,every change has the meaning that we let it have. It’s so bloody true, it isn’t just nice words. So she can let this one be a chance to freshen up her style. Clothes affect our mood a lot, and of course if she can get lighter clothing to make her feel fresh. Body sprays, new lotions, colognes, anything for freshness! Be careful, this is delicate, you don’t want her to think that you are trying to change her style because you no longer like her :S

    5. Be patient. And flexible. Her mood changes, so what? You’ll never get bored for one thing. As a mood swinger, I can assure you that it has nothing to do with you. Let her assure you. Ask her, now it’s her turn to put herself in your shoes. Tell her what your side is and what troubles you more.

    I agree with Sasha, you have to do that talk and come up with a suitable plan. Don’t forget your own needs though, or she will. Menopause is affecting you both, otherwise you would have never asked for our advice.

    PS: menopause is a bit like pregnancy, if you check the symptoms. And every couple survives that so it will not be a big deal to you either… You can ask for more advice from couples who had children and dealt well with pregnancy!

  6. Natalie

    I’m not there yet, and neither is my sweetie, but we have friends who’ve turned to acupuncture with phenomenal results. Many acupuncturists can also prescribe helpful herbal remedies (my acupuncturist has worked wonders for my wicked PMS mood swings). Synthetic hormone replacement and psychotropic mood-altering drugs carry HUGE side effects that in the long run can be far worse than anything menopause could bring.

  7. Femmelover

    MissyJ – LMFAO! You are funny… 🙂

  8. Femmelover

    …furthermore, I think menopause can be handled if it is userstood and planned for. Get educated. I don’t have it yet but, it will come and I will be ready ahead of time.

  9. Missyj

    LOL, thanks Femmelover!

  10. shyfemme

    hi hi, I’m the CCL reader needing advice.. thanks everyone 🙂 and yes missyj I do feel like I should be hiding under a blanket.. Anyway I wrote in the email to Sasha that the situation was causing my emotions to fluctuate wildly and cause me to not be sure where I stood from one minute to the next.. I feel I have been understanding of her situation and have responded I feel, appropriately, and am now being told, contrary to what her behaviour has insinuated, that she cannot be in a monogamous relationship, which is fine had that been clear all along, and had her behaviour indicated the same.. so yeah, right at this minute I’m feeling, well I guess hurt, betrayed and probably even like I’ve been (or am in the process of being) discarded :'( .. I’ve been in an open relationship before but not with someone I care about deeply thus don’t know how this latest turn of events will be managed..

  11. Lee "ButchKitty"

    When my mom was going through it she was put on estrogen to help even things out and it helped quite a bit. That’s all I really know on the subject

  12. Lee "ButchKitty"

    Best bet is to try not to upset her, be understanding, and be patient

  13. LovinMari

    I remember my mom going thru it. She warned me to talk to my dr about it when I turned 40. While I dont think everyone experiences it the same way I would say talk to drs….my sister had no issues but my sils did…just be patient understanding and supportive …

  14. Ruth Tidemann

    Menopause turns out to be about the same as when you first started bleeding, excepting in that finally it’ll be the end of it! So that’s a plus! I had the same symptoms as when I first started bleeding and remembering that and who I was then (12) is a lot different for how it will be (and was) when you actually do menopause. Thank the Goddess for that too! But it does give you an idea what to expect. And yes we are all different. The heat thing is difficult and if you share a bed it’s a good idea to have more bedding easily to go on one side of the bed(not yours)! The grumpiness is another. The woman who is menopausing needs to acknowledge her grumps and deal with her frustrations which can sometimes be sexual. The partner can of course be patient, but it is the responsibility of the one grumping to do something about it. Meds help for some and not others, getting rid of a lot of energy in exercise is good, as well as yoga. Keep talking to your partner and all will be well. At the end of the day, too, love yourself (and her).

  15. Hebe

    umm, difficult time…
    your relationship will change, mine sure did.
    My partner is a bit older and she is and was terrific, was so mentally healthy that she was able to cope with a year of the onset of menopause without recognizing it. That’s not necessarily good though and added up to stress and self-doubt slowly creeping into her thinking, her self-image, our relationship. By the time we (and doctor) confirmed menopause some damage had been done, not too bad, just a shaky start. Estrogen helped a lot.
    But…crazy, crazy times ahead. Sudden flares of jealousy, conspiracy thinking, blaming, hot, cold, hot, cold (hard to sleep with the blanket flapping on and off all night). I had more experience around this from my mom, aunts, and friends going through it (though weirdly enough my mom became much more stable during and after menopause – I think she had an imbalance all the previous part of her life). When my partner’s daughters were visiting she’d think we were flirting or just get oddly paranoid. She’d go to bed early then fling open the door and look at us with anger, suspicion and demand, “what are talking about?!!” (no, there was never anything it was based on). She’d start fights with me, push me away (emotionally and verbally), say mean things that would normally end a relationship.
    I was patient, kind, understanding.
    But only to a point.
    I learned that I had to stick up for me.
    Her compassion would totally disappear at times, sometimes a week, sometimes much longer, and so I was left to care for myself in every way, especially emotionally and my self-respect-esteem. We often had good times and were able to talk about it. But neither of us knew when it would begin again. So (like the oxygen mask on airlines) I had to take care of myself first.
    Repeat: Take care of yourself first!!!
    It’s hard and no one knows how long; totally not like being pregnant(!!!), you know when that’s over, and even postpartum depression usually has a shorter duration up to a year or two. Menopause can last much longer. We are in year 8 and it’s still quite a problem, more subtle and less regular, but if we don’t recognize it (as menopause behavior) it can get just as bad as ever as far as our relationship and her feelings about herself that can get projected on me.
    So don’t take any of her shit. Really. There is no award for martyrdom and she won’t love you more for it; indeed, she has been most thankful when I’ve stuck up for myself (after she’s come down from her “episode”). If I don’t allow myself to be hurt (hard work!) then she has less regret for her behavior and less self-loathing, less depression from her powerlessness over her moods.
    She is a beautiful magnificent person and I treasure the mostly good times. But…I really don’t know where this is going. She is getting more stodgy and less emotionally present to me as time goes on. Oh yeah, forgot to say: Sex ended the month we got married. 7 years ago. We still had some gos at it but she was more self-centered than ever (or I had been kidding myself all along?). Once she got what she wanted (quickest possible orgasm, only her way, even if it caused me discomfort) she was irritated with any desires I had. Started with little exasperated sighs and mini-irritated-groans. Then other “are you going to be long?” comments less than a minute after she came while I was still huffing and puffing from helping her climax. Finally I decided that I wasn’t going to be a part of bad sex, that I enjoyed our other intimacies, daily living ones, smooches, closeness, but didn’t want to feel disregarded anymore by going through the motions of sex (and I never climaxed, though was left sore).
    But otherwise, our relationship is still mostly great. But… the stodginess is getting worse, she’s got a shorter temper, feels more often depressed (not “clinical” (is that the right word?) depression, just icky). She’s thinking of trying anti-depressants. What I’ve experienced before is that while the other person “feels better” it’s a layer of concrete over emotional communication.
    Even though I’ve just said a bunch of stuff that sounds like an abusive relationship, I want to say it’s not really that way. I have stuck up for myself, have wonderful friends, have her as a partner in many activities and share many likes, we have and continue to make a good, friendly home. But dammit, we aren’t growing together, equally committed to expanding our experience of life. She is more in discomfort-avoidance mode and busying herself with busy-making stuff. Know what I mean? More like sending out the message of “don’t rock the boat”. I’m a boat rocker by the way, and she used to admire that.
    So once again,
    take care of yourself first!
    And menopause is not always or often just a phase, a thing that will pass. Your relationship and she is changing. You’ve got to decide whether you want to have what is basically a new/different relationship with a new/different person. I am still deciding. And sometimes I wonder if all this patience has been a good thing or not? Am I a better, more complete person for going through it with her? Maybe marginally. But I do remind myself I have only so many years to live and am I spending them well? I don’t know if there is a rainbow at the end of this or not. I’m afraid that if this current pattern (the last year or so) continues, I will feel that I’ve let myself down by wasting so much time. I do lots of meaningful things, meaningful work with people, lead a good life. But when do I say enough is enough, it’s like taking care of an old aunt not a lover, not a true life partner, not a co-inspirational union? (But then it’s always, “I’ll wait till this episode passes then talk.” That time grows ever shorter, with less resolved.)
    I don’t know but I’m gonna find out one way or the other. I won’t share an oxygen mask with someone who wont breathe. At least I hope I have the courage to act before much longer. I hope for the best, that we can renew our relationship, but have to admit that the past is the past.
    I didn’t intend on saying all this, even to myself. Thank you for being here.

  16. Rosie

    Wow, this sounds like a really hard relationship. I hope it’s worth it for you.
    I just got out of a really hard relationship. I kept telling myself that although it sounded abusive, it really wasn’t. But it was, and on some level I knew it.
    Take care of yourself.

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