(BPT) - When you mention PMS, heavy periods or yeast infections and your guy cringes, changes the subject or flees the room, it’s not that he doesn’t care. He probably just has no clue how to talk about your health problems. One survey found that 63 percent of men say it would take prolonged, severe pain to drive them to the doctor, so is it any wonder they don’t know what to do or say about your discomfort? If he views your symptoms as minor, female-centric or just plan “icky,” he may have an even harder time relating.
A fundamental difference in communication styles may be at least partly to blame. Ample research indicates men want actionable information; show them a problem and their natural instinct is to try to solve it. Women emphasize the sharing aspects of communication, and that approach may not always provide men with the information they feel they need in order to act. Yet your health issues are important to you, and they should be to the man in your life.
To help the man in your life better understand your health concerns, educate yourself first, and then share the information with him in clear, concise terms he’ll find relatable. Here’s some advice for talking to your guy about common women’s health issues:
First, help him understand that heavy periods are a very common problem. About 10 million women (one in every five) experience periods that require hourly changes of pads or tampons – even at night – and bleeding that continues for a week or longer or limits their daily activities. Next, hit him with this eye-opening stat: Women with heavy periods miss work 28 percent more than other women, according to the National Health Interview Survey.
While discussing how your heavy periods make you feel – frustrated, limited, tired, etc. – be sure to talk to him about possible solutions. Remember, guys want to solve problems, so be sure to discuss treatment options. Oral contraceptive and hysterectomies have traditionally been used to treat severe cases, but modern medicine offers other options. One, a non-surgical, non-hormonal treatment called NovaSure, can dramatically reduce or even eliminate menstrual bleeding for 90 percent of women, and has already helped 2 million women. Sit down with your guy and log on to ChangeTheCycle.com or Facebook.com/Changethecycle to learn more about the procedure.
Why is it PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) seems to be the health issue men are most cavalier about? Perhaps the vast amount of misinformation out there accounts for the antipathy. While almost every woman experiences some discomfort related to her menstrual cycle, PMS is more severe for some women. About 85 percent of women have at least one symptom per month, while 3 to 8 percent have a more severe form called premenstrual dysphoric disorder, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Multiple factors are thought to cause PMS, including hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle, chemical changes in the brain, low vitamin and mineral levels, fluid retention and consumption of mood-altering beverages such as alcohol and caffeine, according to WomensHealth.gov. Treatment is as individual as the women who experience PMS, and may include lifestyle changes, medication and vitamin supplementation.
About 75 percent of women will get a yeast infection during their lifetime, according to WomensHealth.gov. Some will suffer from recurring infections. While an untreated yeast infection isn’t likely to be life-threatening, the pain, itching and discomfort can seriously impact a woman’s quality of life. Open sores may become infected with other serious germs. During pregnancy and childbirth, a mother can pass the infection to her baby. What’s more, a small percentage of men may be susceptible to acquiring a yeast infection if they have unprotected sex with a woman who has an untreated infection.
About 25 million Americans experience incontinence, and 9 million to 13 million of them are probably women whose symptoms are severe, according to the National Association for Continence. Incontinence can significantly impact a woman’s lifestyle and mental health. It may also indicate a more serious underlying problem, so it’s important to discuss incontinence with a doctor. Treatment can range from simple lifestyle changes to medications and even surgery in severe cases.
Women and men will always face different communication styles. When it comes to health issues that affect your life, though, it’s important to continue working toward better understanding. Sharing solid information with the guy in your life can help him better understand your health concerns, and make him feel empowered to help you.