WARRIOR WOMEN
FHM Magazine South Africa|November 2020
For the men in menopause
Ian Kirke

I have had many Forrest Gump moments in my life. The mantra, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get’, continues to feature prominently in my life. On the other hand, my 27-year old son Adam has pretty much mapped his life out with his retirement planned in his forties, whilst the old man sort of makes it up as he goes along. In my chaotic life, chance very often comes along, and like a moth is drawn to bright light I more often than not go for it. So, when a message appeared in my Messenger inbox from a female friend I initially, and perhaps unusually, discarded the challenge: You should write about menopause! On reflection, my initial trepidation was framed around the very obvious notion that I could not write about the subject since as a man I could never experience it. If you are a male reader and this claim has made you drop your pipe, dumbbells, copy of FHM or any other small item you happen to be holding, because you know something about the male equivalent, let me immediately correct you because this is, in my opinion, bullshit. Men do not suffer from a comparable condition. Andropause, more common in us older farts, connects with declining testosterone levels and can lead to, amongst other things, irritability, weight gain, and low sex drive.

How can I be certain of this assertion? Bluntly put I have risen to the challenge and interviewed a sample group of women about an issue, I am embarrassed to say, I have never given much thought to. To seek to understand, or at least start a conversation about this taboo subject, that can only improve the relationship between genders. This is the principal rationale for this reflective piece. I now passionately believe that men need to know what the ladies in their lives are experiencing and in doing so my intention is to explore this gender issue in order to better equip us, men, to provide healthier support. I make no excuses for the naivety of my inquiry and can only thank the ladies involved for their cooperation and candor. As a professionally qualified researcher, I have sought to gather the evidence in a responsible and scientific way, and consequently, those who did provide the ultimate narrative will remain anonymous. This primary evidence trail was as far as I decided to explore since I wanted to hear and pass on the real-life stories and not summon the collective scientific wisdom which can be found at the click of a button on the internet.

Professionalism aside, I am also a bloke and suffer from many irritating behaviors and entrenched attitudes. I fart, very often without warning, scratch my balls frequently and forget all manner of domestic routines. I am also a clumsy fucker both in terms of manual dexterity and very often in framing sensitive interventions with the opposite sex. Recognizing these limitations, I have sought to use this to my advantage on this occasion, and maybe being a klutz, with the best of intentions, has helped me to gather a more personal account of this significant physical and emotional change which I have concluded, many women have to deal with in isolation. Ladies, you know who you are and I am indebted to everyone who comprehensively responded to my opening gambit: so, If you were addressing a group of men what would you want to tell them about menopause and how can men better support their partners?

What exactly is menopause?

Putting technical explanations to one side, it’s Mother Nature’s kick in the face to all women after they have become surplus to breeding! This disclosure alone made me wince as it signaled redundancy. A loss of purpose that as a man I would be terrified of if I suddenly became, by reason of biology, any less of a human being. At the more scientific level, menopause occurs when hormone levels start to change once the end of childbearing age is reached, resulting in the cessation of egg production within the ovaries. Periods tend to stop, estrogen dramatically reduces and cortisol and testosterone skyrocket.

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