Anyone with children will tell you what an amazing experience it is – creating new life and watching your children as they develop new skills and grow each day is a joy to behold. It’s also a very demanding time and if you happen to be experiencing the menopause at the same time as caring for young children and teenagers, then it’s likely that your home life is going to be one big rollercoaster.
A number of factors have contributed to the trend to have children later in life. Better education/career/travel opportunities, the desire to achieve personal goals, meeting the right partner and/or access to fertility treatments have all played a part. But it wasn’t so long ago that ‘geriatric mothers’ were the exception rather than the rule and 2021 data from the Office of National Statistics shows that not only is the birth rate in younger women decreasing, but that women aged between 35 to 39 years saw a 5% increase in fertility rates. And UK Parliament statistics confirm that 61% of births in 2010 to women in their forties were either first or second children. Proof that women are indeed choosing to wait longer to have children and that many mothers are juggling the needs of raising a young family at the same time as experiencing major hormonal changes within their own bodies.
Some of the core symptoms of the menopause include anxiety, mood changes, fatigue and poor sleep – all of which can wreak havoc with mental health and trigger feelings of anger and irritability in even the most gentle of parents. It’s little wonder then that women find their relationships at home under stress, with their energy levels and patience put to the test.
Dr Kate Dodson is a GP who specialises in women’s health issues, particularly the menopause and contraception, at her practices in Surrey and Sussex. She explains how the menopause can affect parents and their children. “Symptoms such as poor sleep, anxiety and low mood severely the impact on all our relationships. As one of our most intimate relationships is with our children it goes without saying it has an impact. As a GP I meet so many mums who really struggle with hormonal symptoms, yet many put up with so much before they seek help.”
Kate has seen a significant rise in older mothers with young children seeking help for the symptoms of menopause in recent years. “Traditionally when women would have children in their early twenties, those children would have left home by the time they were going through the menopause. Now these women often have primary school aged kids or teenagers, plus sometimes the addition of aging parents to care for. It all takes a toll but help is out there and there is no need to suffer.”
Kate is positive that with the right approach and support all mothers can find the help they need to help them navigate parenting through the menopause. “Discuss your problems with your GP. There are various hormonal treatments and non-hormonal ones that can really help. These can include HRT, contraceptive pill regimes, SSRI antidepressants, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), and exercise and other forms of self-help have good evidence for being beneficial. Having age appropriate discussions with your children plus your partner can really help everyone to support you.”
So remember – even if it doesn’t feel like it – you’re doing great and your children love you. Be sure to make use of all the options and support available to help you find the right treatment to manage your symptoms and restore peace back into your home life… Well, as much peace as you can expect with kids.
3 expert tips to help you parent through the menopause
Dr Kate Dodson shares her professional advice to help menopausal mothers ease their symptoms and manage relationships.
- Do your research. There are many websites and social media groups giving information about the menopause. Not all of them are qualified to do so but most are passionate about helping women. The British Menopause Society takes a lead in the UK and their patient website is a good source of facts and guidance. Also the widely available ‘Greene Climacteric Scale’ is a great symptom checklist that can help you pinpoint where you are in your menopause journey.
- Find a doctor who knows about the menopause. Ask the receptionist which GPs have a special interest in the menopause or women’s health. Medicine is a wide ranging subject and not everyone knows everything, so speaking to the right person will really help. If you can, a private menopause clinic will be full of passionate doctors who are knowledgeable and will manage more complex cases. Unfortunately NHS menopause clinics are limited and have long waiting lists, but you may be lucky so do investigate.
- Let everyone know how you feel. It’s not a failure to be struggling and kids learn by seeing you cope with adversity. Talk to them, in a language they understand, to let them know you are tired/having a hot flush/are feeling worried – and talk to your partner about your symptoms too. Encourage them to look up further information online and help them to understand what you are experiencing.
For more stories, advice and interviews, head to the Menopause Your Way Stories hub. To browse and shop a curated edit of menopause products, visit the Menopause Your Way page on QVC.
The content of the QVC website is for information only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the QVC website.
We understand there’s a lot of information out there on the menopause. You can read through the NICE guidance on menopause management, as well as the NHS overview on the menopause.