By Dick Roth
WebMD Live Events Transcript
Author Dick Roth approaches the subject from a men's perspective, dispelling some of the myths and pointing the way towards useful resources.
The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.
Moderator: Hello and welcome to WebMD live!
Moderator: Our guest today is Dick Roth. Mr. Roth is the winner of an Olympic gold medal in swimming, which he won while still in high school. A graduate of Stanford University with a major in religious studies, Roth ran a large chain of natural food stores in Santa Barbara, California through the 1970s; worked a ranch of more than a half million acres in Elko County, Nevada for another decade; and during most of the 1990s was a manager and workshop facilitator for the Covey Leadership Center. The father of two young adults, he has been married for 22 years. Tonight, we're talking about Mr. Roth's book, No, It's Not Hot In Here.
No, It's Not Hot In Here is a great title. Where did it come from?
Roth: It's kind of a joke now between my wife and I -- we were not prepared for it and now we use it for fun and I chose it -- and usually the husband would go back to reading the paper.
Moderator: So, Mr. Roth, how did you come to begin working on this project?
Roth: When my wife first started with menopause , I wanted to believe it wasn't happening. It was the farthest thing from my mind. I finally accepted it happening and when I realized what it was, I looked at a couple of books about it but nothing for husbands and I decided someone needed to write a book about it. Men need something about it to understand.
Moderator: Where did you start?
Roth: With the idea if giving an overview and kind of an antidote, kind of paint a basic picture of it. I wanted to just give the overview but scientific overview of it.
Moderator: In your opinion, what is the most common misconception out there about women and menopause?
Roth: Basically three. Widespread in western societies, it is an illness. The way we respond to it. I responded to my wife as if she were sick. I thought we needed to get it treated. I realized it wasn't an illness. I thought it must be degrading to a woman, and the light bulbs went off and I started to treat my wife differently; I started to realize how strong women are. I thought about the menstrual cycle women go through and I became more compassionate.
Moderator: When did you first realize your wife was going through menopause? Did you realize before she did?
Roth: She realized it first and accepted it and began to do something about. It was her early 40s. The menstrual cycles had become irregular and she had a check-up with OBGYN and she told me that this was premenopause. She started to read books about it and I just didn't want to believe it.
Moderator: ... and the age thing, that's why it bothered you so much?
Roth: Menopause is undeniably a marker that we are getting older. It is an unconscious bell going off. Women seem to be more accepting of it. When a man hears that, it's sometimes the red corvette syndrome going off. We don't want to grow old.
Moderator: Do you think that there's a growing awareness in the US about issues associated with menopause?
Roth: Major, yes. Now it's entering menopause age, the largest selling drug is for menopause. Viagra is in third place, I believe. This is kind of like -- men say it's a women's issue. Men will pick it up and deal with it. It's not a women's issue; physicaly, yes. It becomes a relationship issue actually.
Moderator: Are most men inherently clueless about this?
Roth: I think so and they want to stay that way. It has been a major taboo. It hasn't been talked about. Most of our parents haven't discussed it; women want to know about it. These women learned about it, took birthing classes. If you go to www.Amazon.com, you'll find hundreds of books on it. Men have an attitude about it: It's not my problem.
Moderator: What kinds of physical changes did your wife undergo during menopause? Were you surprised?
Roth: The first and most obvious change is the hot flash. It's an outer reflection of the inner change. The estrogen and progesterone basically cause hot flashes and all the other problems. From a man's point of view it can be interesting, and for a woman it can be extremely inconvenient and unnerving. It is very annoying and even debilitating. Other signs that are subtle but important have to do with reproductive organs. There are changes there. The uterus gets smaller, the vagina gets more fragile, the breasts know they are not going to produce milk anymore. It can even produce painful intercourse. Men need to be sensitive to that. Other changes happen to the skin. It ages more quickly around that time.
Moderator: Let's talk about the issues associated with remaining sensitive about this. Do you have any tips?
Roth: I think the important thing for men to do is get out of denial about it. Stop pretending it isn't happening. I think the first step is acceptance of it. It is going to happen. You need to gain some awareness about it. I recommend reading books about it. The next step would be to start communicate; ask simple questions like, How are you feeling? What can I do to help? This is more important even than reading the books. Every menopause is different, for sisters, mothers., etc.
Moderator: Tell us about your five ground rules for communicating.
Roth: First, the communication process is very important. You have to understand what your partner is facing. Second, communication is a two-way street; you need to listen AND express yourself. New age doesn't always work. In the expression part for some people is just being considerate. I used to say what I wanted to without getting hurt. You need to balance the courage and consideration, to say it in a way that is nice. We think there are certain ways to do it. My wife picks up on a technique I am doing and I have learned to drop that and just be there. Another important thing is to do it when I am able to give it my full concentration and be past my emotions. I can get my buttons pushed, so sometimes it's better to wait and put it away.
Moderator: You talk a bit in the book about finding a healthy, manly release in the company of other men. How can this help?
Roth: It helped me in the move towards or backlash of being really nice in a relationship. A lot of us go overboard; we go too far. I would really counsel against being really nasty and so on, especially during menopause. I think it's helpful to be my nasty manly self; burp, fart or whatever. Maybe that's sexist, but it works well.
Moderator: Speaking of men -- what do you make of andropause -- aka "male menopause?"
Roth: It's real, no question there. It's different than menopause, of course. Men's testosterone goes down noticeably. There's a lot of publicity. It has affected sexuality, muscle tone. We are not performing as well, we are losing hair,. When partnered with menopause it can be really devastating emotionally. That is where Viagra has been so successful.
Moderator: As a couple enters midlife together, what other kinds of adjustments do they have to make?
Roth: Aside from accepting the aging process, we need to look at this time as one that can be an opportunity to strengthen a relationship. Menopause is a great door opener. It can also be very difficult. Communication is the key. You can end up with a stronger relationship. It is an attitude type adjustment time. You can support each other; go on walks together, etc.
Moderator: As something of an outsider, what do you make of the hormone replacement therapy debate?
Roth: I have a friend who recently had a hysterectomy and a "hormone crash" . Some women don't take hormone replacement and do just fine. Women need to approach this with a high dose of caution. You need to find out if you are a good candidate for hormone replacement. You need to go in with your eyes open. Some women wouldn't trade it for anything. You need to have a lot of caution. For men, the best advice is it's her decision, not yours. Men need to listen, help and clarify but don't make the decision.
Moderator: So, with our remaining time -- I'd be negligent in my duties if I didn't ask you about the Olympics. What was it like winning a Gold at such a young age?
Roth: There's nothing like it in the world, I guarantee you. No experience can ever come close to it. Winning it in high school was like, What do I do next? I cherish the memory. I am thrilled about the Olympics coming to my home town.
Moderator: Well, Mr. Roth -- it has certainly been a pleasure having you here today. Do you have any closing thoughts for us?
Roth: Menopause, when you involve husbands, you need to improve your relationships and don't let it go south on you.
Moderator: Our guest today has been Dick Roth. Mr. Roth is the winner of an Olympic gold medal in swimming, which he won while still in high school. A graduate of Stanford University with a major in religious studies, Roth ran a large chain of natural food stores in Santa Barbara, Calif. through the 1970s; worked a ranch of more than a half million acres in Elko County, Nev. for another decade; and during most of the 1990s was a manager and workshop facilitator for the Covey Leadership Center. The father of two young adults, he has been married for 23 years.
Of course, you can find his book on both amazon.com and barnes and noble, as well at your local bookstore. The title is No, It's Not Hot In Here, and it's meant to be a primer -- for MEN -- about menopause.
Thanks, everyone, and goodnight.
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