People sometimes say the stupidest things without even realizing it. It’s usually because they don’t think. Or they may just not understand the hormonal changes and mood swings many of us are experiencing. But if you’re talking to women in menopause, carefully consider the words that are coming out of your mouth. Women in menopause have feelings and those feelings are on a heightened sense of alert.
Are we being overly sensitive? Maybe so, but here are a few examples of thoughtless comments I’ve heard recently—some from my own family—that struck a nerve:
- “You’re too young to be in menopause.” According to whom? Studies show that the average age of menopause is 51. However, some of us can begin experiencing symptoms in our thirties or forties and we want validation.
- “What’s your problem?” Oh, I don’t know. My pants are too tight, I can’t remember whatever it was I were supposed to remember, and it’s so freakin’ hot outside. But I’m not outside. It’s a bad day and the last thing I want is to listen to someone else’s smart mouth.
- “Isn’t there a pill you can take for that?” For what? Menopause? If there was a happy pill that cured all menopause symptoms, do you think millions of women would be walking around wondering what the heck is going on? These words have probably been uttered by more than one ill-informed husband who has since avoided eye contact. Or any kind of contact, really.
- “Hot flashes are no big deal.” No, they didn’t just say that! Maybe not for some women, but hot flashes can certainly be a big deal for others. Hot flashes are inconvenient, disruptive, and not a lot of fun in general. So unless you’ve personally experienced them, keep your comments to yourself.
- “You sound like my mom.” Nobody wants to sound like someone else’s mother. In fact, we avoid sounding like our own moms. And to make matters worse, you don’t want these words to come out of a twentysomething’s mouth while she’s showing you a new wrinkle cream at the beauty counter. Just put the product in the bag and shut it.
You don’t need to walk around on eggshells near every menopausal woman. Just be considerate. Women in menopause are going through some very dramatic life changes and we need a little compassion. So be kind to your wife, sister, friend, or mom. She’ll be back. But in the meantime, if you think you shouldn’t say it, you’re probably right.