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The kids are grown and they have left, you sold your house for the condominium and Winnebago you always wanted, and you were able to retire early so you and your wife could finally enjoy yourselves. One morning, you awake to repetitive crashing sounds coming from the kitchen. You find your wife crying hysterically, pitching Mason jars into the sink because your daughter broke a lunch date with her today.

She cries a lot lately, and you just want to leave when she gets so moody. In fact, you have left to go for a ride in the car on occasion. Her emotions are getting worse, and you are feeling helpless. You feel alienated when you try to fix whatever is bothering your wife.

She hardly sleeps any more, either. She tosses and turns and gets up to the bathroom every night; she never used to do that. The sheets are always sweaty on her side of the bed. She complains constantly about the heat, and she is always checking the thermostat.

You noticed that your wife was gaining weight, and she cried for an hour when you mentioned it. Her body does not look the same any more. She is somewhat thicker about the middle, and her hips and thighs are heavier. She cannot wear some of the same clothes she wore last year. She seems to have aged overnight.

Not exactly, your wife is just in menopause. She is going through what is known as, “The Change.” Her hormones are changing along with her body. It is a normal event that occurs in every woman’s life at the end of her childbearing years. Some women start earlier than others do, but generally the onset of menopause occurs between 45 and 55. In addition, some women do not even notice that they are going through it, while others have symptoms much more intense than your wife does.

What does all this mean anyway? It marks the end of the reproductive years and the beginning of the autumn of one’s life. It means that age is inevitable, but it does not have to mean aging is uncomfortable. It means that a change in lifestyle can make The Change more manageable.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a possibility. A trip to the gynecologist and possibly a blood test will determine the need for HRT. Because the main goal is to replace the waning estrogen supply, many women report fantastic results in this therapy. Mood swings decrease along with depression for many women. While HRT may not get rid of the fat that has shifted like the sands of the Sahara around the middle, women may feel more accepting of their new shape. Hot flashes (and so-called night sweats) may decrease in intensity and number, or dissipate altogether with HRT.

Calcium supplements are necessary for the menopausal woman. The threat of osteoporosis looms in The Change, and low calcium levels is the enemy. Exercise is necessary for bone health to decrease the chance of fractures and combat osteoporosis. Activities like running, walking, and aerobics are good for maintaining bone strength and integrity.

With exercise is the importance of a healthy diet. Eliminating fatty snacks can improve weight problems. Foods high in sugar are menacing to the figure as well. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, fish, poultry, and the occasional red meat is the goal. Because menopausal women tote drying organs like skin and eyes, increasing water consumption during the day may make her more comfortable.

With a more comfy wife, you’ll be able to enjoy your condo and Winnebago. Maybe you will even get to tour Canada like you’ve always talked about! Hopefully, the sounds coming from your kitchen can be laughter instead of sobbing, and your nights can again be peaceful and calm. Menopause is a normal stage in a woman’s life, a time of many celebrations.