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How menopause can ruin a marriage

Even Rod Stewart understands how dangerous it is to family happiness

“Until now, I hadn’t seen what menopause was because my previous marriages didn’t last that long. So it was the first time with Penny, but she was throwing extreme tantrums. One night he threw away all the cooking utensils. Then me and our sons just embraced her and decided to work for more people to understand what women go through in this period of their lives,” Rod Stewart told The Times. The 77-year-old musician has joined his wife Penny Lancaster’s campaign to raise awareness of menopause issues. He gave a series of interviews and participated in television shows to draw attention to what he believed to be an important problem that not only affects women, but everyone around them.

Penny, 51, began experiencing the first signs of menopause such as insomnia and hot flashes during the pandemic. She thinks it might be a consequence of the coronavirus because she doesn’t feel old. When she goes to her GP, he prescribes sedatives because he thinks she’s worried about her husband’s renewed battle with cancer. It is only when she shares with other women in the police force, where she works as a volunteer patrol officer, that she realizes that she has faced the precipice of menopause and must take action if she does not want to go crazy and drive the people around her crazy. Fortunately, he receives great understanding and support from his family.

“She was in a fragile situation. He wasn’t the man I married. It was scary, but she told me through tears what she was feeling and we talked about it. I was constantly Googling about it and I learned to just listen and be ready to throw pots and pans on the floor,” says Rod Stewart. According to him, it is good for husbands and wives to go through menopause courses together so that they can best cope with this challenging time, as it is not just about stopping a woman’s menstrual cycle, but about a number of other changes in her body that men need to understand and not “just run to the pub” when they happen.

Stewart married leggy former model Penny in 2007. They have two sons, aged 17 and 11. So the male trio at home initially has a hard time understanding her erratic behavior. However, she likes to talk openly about it, as she always has in times of trouble. She tells them when her last menstrual period was, how her body is covered in hot flashes and then freezing cold, how she feels sad and is able to cry without any reason to do so. After receiving hormone replacement therapy, Penny’s condition improves significantly, but she and Rod decide it’s a good idea to talk openly about the problem to save other couples from having a hard time.

A recent survey found that around 70% of middle-aged divorced women in Britain believe that menopause symptoms contributed to the breakdown of their marriage. Some report that their mood swings and lack of sleep have led to more arguments and even domestic violence. Decreased libido due to hormonal changes was often perceived by the husband as a reluctance to have sex, rather than an objective biological reason, which made them feel compelled to have sex, even though they had no sexual desire. Most of the 1,000 women surveyed said their marriage could probably have been saved if they had received better treatment for their condition.

Stopping the menstrual cycle is a natural process in which the production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone in the female body decreases. This is exactly what causes hot flashes, mood swings, decreased sex drive, sleep and memory problems. Although symptoms vary from woman to woman, about 75% say they experience some change, and for one in four it is so great that their quality of life suffers. “Decreasing estrogen can slow metabolism and affect energy levels, leading to weight gain. The appearance of brain fog, memory loss and irritability are other common symptoms that can cause such mental problems that some women are forced to leave work,” explains Dr. Bruce Dorr of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. According to him, hormone replacement therapy can significantly alleviate such conditions. Essentially, it supplies the body with compensating amounts of estrogen and progesterone. It can be administered in many ways – through pills, injections, patches and creams. Because of some studies in the past showing that it may increase the risk of breast cancer, it is still avoided by women. And access to it in most countries is not free, as it is not perceived as something vital.

However, the courage of a number of celebrities to speak out on the issue may change that perception. Former US First Lady Michelle Obama also recently joined them. In her podcast, she opened up about her struggles with weight gain and hot flashes when her period stops. “Menopause isn’t talked about much, but I’ve been through it and I know what it’s like. I see how all my friends struggle with it, and information is scarce,” says 58-year-old Michelle Obama. She also relies on hormone replacement therapy to ease through this period of her life. “There used to be studies that said taking hormones was a bad thing. More recent research shows that this is not the case, and there are benefits. So I also try to sift the verified information from the misinformation,” says Michelle Obama. She thinks she’s handled the menopause relatively well, jokingly quipping, “My skin is still healthy and my hair is on my head.”

However, millions of people prefer to suffer in silence and not receive the care they need. Hormonal changes can also contribute to other health conditions — heart disease, dementia, osteoporosis or certain cancers, warns Dr. Bruce Dorr. So it’s not good to look at menopause as something that will come and go just like that.

A police chief wears a heat wave vest

A senior London police chief has donned a vest that causes hot flashes similar to those of menopause. Matt Jukes, who heads the counter-terrorism unit, decided to take this step so he could better understand how the elderly women in his subordinate service felt.

The MenoVest vest was created specifically by a British charity to help raise awareness and empathy for ladies going through menopause. Built-in heaters simulate the sensation of a heat wave, allowing anyone to experience one of the most common symptoms.

The vest was also previously offered to MPs in the British Parliament, who were investigating whether women in the UK were getting enough support when their periods stopped. They concluded that the taboo around menopause still prevails in all corners of society and there is socio-economic inequality in terms of access to proper treatment. Poorer people had to wait longer for a check-up and were offered antidepressants instead of hormones.

Therefore, the MPs insist on introducing a mandatory menopause examination at the age of 45, which will determine whether a woman needs hormone replacement therapy. Only in this way can it be guaranteed that its damage will be reduced. A study has shown that for nearly 90% of women, menopause has had an impact on their professional life.

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