When women reach a certain age (which varies greatly, all the way from 35 to 45), certain changes take place within the body, producing physical and sometimes mental effects. The most obvious of these changes is that she ceases to menstruate; she no longer has her monthly periods. This means, of course, that she can no longer become pregnant, and have any additions to the family.
It is only natural that the cessation of this important function should affect the woman profoundly. Glandular changes of any kind do. The most commonly noted effects are hot flushes, restlessness, irritability, palpitation of the heart, etc. These often cause undue fear and apprehension, which in turn create strong emotions. The woman may recall terrible tales she has heard from other women as to what may happen at this time. As a matter of fact, there is rarely cause for alarm, since this is a perfectly normal process. The nervous breakdown, which some women experience at the menopause, is more mental than physical in origin.
When these strange new sensations are felt, the woman should realize that they are, in themselves, harmless; and that only her fears and her emotions can give them undue importance. It is true that some women experience a period of melancholy and apprehension, sometimes coupled with tremendously increased sexual desires, which their husbands fail to understand. These should be made the subject of quiet talks between them; and if the symptoms are very intense, your doctor should be consulted. He will advise you as to what to do for these emotional and physical disturbances.
Many woman labor under the false impression that sexual pleasure is no longer possible after the change of life. This is entirely untrue; the ceasing of the menses does not, in any way, interfere with the sexual desires; in fact, many women find that their urges in this direction are stronger than ever. As we have pointed out elsewhere in this book, passion and pregnancy by no means necessarily go together.
Until relatively lately, it was not realized that men also go through a certain change of life, at about the same age as the woman, or a little later. This is not so easy to determine, of course, since in his case, there are no menses to cease. All the same, he goes through certain physical and emotional changes, which are manifested in his life. He, too, may become irritable and moody, and say and do things which he never did before, and for which there seems no valid reason. His sex-life may take a turn in either one of two directions: it may become far more passive, so that he desires intercourse far less often than before, in which case he accepts middle age gracefully; or he may experience violent and almost uncontrollable impulses, which tend to convert him, for the time being, into a veritable Casa-nova. If the latter occurs, it may well lead to marital discord and a complete breaking of the family ties, especially if the wife fails to understand what is taking place. She must endeavor to be tolerant, sympathetic and understanding at such times, just as the man should manifest these same traits while his wife is passing through this difficult period. Mutual suspicion and nag-ging will only end in disaster. The husband and wife should engage in frank discussions, and endeavor to adjust their lives past this danger-zone. The advice of the family physician will often help here. If this period is safely passed, there is every chance that the marriage will continue happily for many years to come.