Menopause: tips for partners

If your partner is going through the menopause, being prepared will help you both cope with the changes she is experiencing.

Denise Knowles, a relationship and psychosexual counsellor with Relate, offers some advice for men on how to support their partner through the menopause.

How will my partner feel during the menopause?

Our society values supple skin, youth, beauty and fitness. As a woman, when your skin becomes a little less elastic and your body shape starts changing, you wonder whether you can carry on doing all the things you want to. There’s a sense of ageing that you can't escape from.

If you’re having hot flushes, something that is private to you often becomes very public.

When it comes to sex and the menopause, a woman may experience dryness and worry that intercourse will become painful. If you’ve not really talked about your sex life, subjects such as lubricant may be awkward for a woman to discuss.

This can lead to your partner not feeling very good about herself and worried about how it may affect her relationship with you. She may also think: "I’m struggling to understand myself, so how can I expect him to understand me?" Women's insecurities are often linked to the reaction of their partners.

Read more about the symptoms of depression and what to do if you suspect your partner is depressed.

How can I show I care?

One of the key ways to show that you care is to gently point out the things you've noticed that have changed and genuinely concern you.

Maybe you could say: "I’ve noticed you don’t appear to be your normal, jolly self" or, "You seem to be a bit distracted" or, "You got cross yesterday because you forgot to do something. That’s not like you. Is everything alright?" That way, you’ve opened up a door for a conversation to take place.

I became incredibly clumsy and my husband noticed, and said: "Are you alright? It’s not like you." Just the relief that he’d noticed was really good.

Let her know you’re not being disparaging or disrespectful. Think of it as something you need to be looking at and working through together.

What can I do to help?

It’s important for men to equip themselves with some knowledge about the menopause and perhaps about HRT. There are some men who think it's women’s business and there’s no need for them to be informed or even involved in it. That's incredibly insensitive.

In terms of sex, it can be a time of change for both of you. A woman may lose their sex drive or she may feel quite liberated and want sex more often. Men will also be ageing, and their sexual desires may lessen. They may be grateful that their partners don’t want sex so often.

As a couple, you may have to find new ways of being intimate without penetrative intercourse. Many couples develop a more sensual and intimate relationship. Some kiss a lot, going back to how things were before their sexual relationship, and relearning ways of displaying intimacy and affection. Women need to feel they’re still desirable and that you still want to get close to them.

Read more about sex after the menopause.

The menopause and relationships

Hear from women who have shared their stories about relationships, sex and contraception while going through the menopause on

How will it affect our relationship?

"The best thing is to look at the menopause in a positive way, to allow it to teach you ways of coping with a situation that you haven't come across before. It’s important to know you can be there for one another  that you can get through it and develop ways of coping.

When should my partner see her GP?

One reason your wife or partner has not been to the doctor may be because she's terrified and doesn’t want to admit it's happening to her.

Offer to go to the GP with her, where your partner's symptoms may be sorted out. If not, the GP may refer her to the local hospital's menopause clinic, which generally has doctors, specialist menopause nurses and counsellors on hand to tackle problems.

Page last reviewed: 03/11/2014

Next review due: 03/11/2016


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The 7 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Cookie_Monster said on 02 September 2015

I'm in a same sex relationship- and both me and my partner are perimenopausal - oh, what fun!
I'm "lucky" enough to see it from both perspectives- and can definitely empathise with partners of those going through the menopause/perimenopause. It’s definitely something of a roller coaster ride!
I can also understand why so many women are in denial, or refuse to acknowledge the dreaded "M" word. From personal experience, you feel old, irrational, emotional, unattractive, fat, frumpy, undesirable and most definitely unsexy/libido-less.
Life‘s passing you by, it's sometimes hard to concentrate - or you want to cry/feel flat - for no explicable reason. You don't feel yourself. And the physical symptoms are even worse!
And going to the doctor means you have to face up to/admit all of these negative, irrational feelings - or worse still - contemplate treatments such as HRT and/or hysterectomies.
Hormones are sneaky blighters, they mess with you head and turn you into Jekyll/Hyde in the blink of an eye!
I suspect that for those whose partners refuse to acknowledge their symptoms - it might be not so much the symptoms that they won't admit to - moreso the implication of what they mean/signify.
Be patient, don't take it personally, let your feelings be heard (because they matter too), talk to your partner, accept that mostly you still won't be able to do the right thing!
And if all else fails, polish your halo, buy yourself a bunker and hunker down until the dratted horror-mones subside. They come, they go. They don't last forever (do they?!)
My partner badgered me enough to go to the GP - which took an incredible amount of resolve on both sides! I'm about to start HRT. *Sigh*. It's a bit like income tax. Inevitable and psychologically traumatic - until it becomes the everyday norm.
Talk to your partner. Talk about how it affects you. And buy yourself a hard hat - possibly a gum guard. Life insurance. Shin pads. ;)
Good luck!

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Ms Exhausted said on 18 August 2015

I can related to all these men here.. I am a woman in a same sex relationship with someone older than I. She is perimenopausal and over the past few months has been total hell to live with. Both myself and the children are constantly on egg minute she is her happy hippy self and the next it is like she has transformed into the hulk! At first we all used to laugh about it but after months of being snapped at rejected and living with this I am at my wits end... I have tried being supportive, I have read everything I can get my hands on to try and be more understanding, everything from giving her space to completely pampering her... I am all out of ideas! She is the love of my life and I hate seeing her so conflicted.. But like others on here she refuses to acknowledge there is a problem and snaps if I so much a mention the 'M' word. She is a nurse and refuses to speak to anyone and as for any kind of HRT that is an absolute no go zone (she is very holistic). I just don't know what else I can do apart from grit my teeth and pray for this to get easier for both of us!

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lunavega said on 13 February 2015

My wife and I have been married for 33 years she has been menopausal for about 8 years. She has all the classic symptoms but refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem. It`s all well and good advising we talk caringly and lovingly about the issue but it`s like being an alcoholic - until the person accepts there is a problem they`ll deny it exists. We`ve lived in a state of impasse all this time, she refuses to even go to a doctor as "she knows what`s best".
I have run out of ideas as to how to approach this to at least get her to go and speak with a doctor to see if there is a problem and discuss possible solutions

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Schubert said on 26 July 2012

Like carlrogers above, my wife has recently told me that she loves me as a friend, and has suggested we spilt up. She also appears to have begun the perimenopause, and this bombshell has come right out of the blue. Our 14yr marriage has been wonderful, the usual niggles aside, and I am convinced it is the perimenopause that has induced this radical change in her feelings.

She has also begun to behave in a totally uncharacteristic way, spending lots of time visiting friends, at the exclusion to our two youngest children, having hitherto been a very nuturing mother and 'homely' wife. I am in utter despair, as I love her dearly, and am terrified at the prospect of us breaking up and divorcing. I also know that this would be a terible mistake, and am determined for us to find a way through this. Unfortunately, although she has made a first approach to her GP, she has not told him of the emotional symptoms, and at this point refuses to consider that her hormones could be playing a significant part in this dramatic change in her feelings.

Having scoured the internet, I note that antidepressants and psychotherapy appear to be the most favoured treatment for depression. I would like advice on whether depression can be present even though a person appears perfectly fine outwardly.

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carlrogers said on 31 October 2010

As a suffering husband, I have scoured the internet for advice and found very little. My wife has told me that she loves me but 'as a friend'. Having recently begun the perimenopause, I am sure this has prompted her remark which she sees as a reason to split up. Clearly this could be a terrible mistake at this time. I am desperate for advice on this. I know it can't be solved, but I am suffering from depresion and suicidal thoughts.Some relationship strains have been adding to this remark, but I would like her to understand that her hormones have had a very large effect as well.

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LS83 said on 29 September 2008

have a look at the NHS guide to depression-it is pretty comprehensive

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User45571 said on 24 September 2008

I am very pleased to find some advice for partners about the menopause.....all the sites I have investigated address their comments to women, so receiving clear advice to a man is very helpful.

One effect of the menopause has been the effect on mood swings, and this coupled with the evidence of 'ageing' that the menopause brings, has meant that symptoms of depression sometimes arise. Could this guidance section provide some advice on how to best support someone that occassional feels depressed


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Coping with the menopause

The menopause is marked by the ending of menstruation (when a woman's periods stop). As a result of these hormonal changes, many women have physical and emotional symptoms, such as hot flushes, night sweats and irritability. Watch this video to hear two women describe their experience of the menopause, and learn about common symptoms and treatments.

Media last reviewed: 08/12/2014

Next review due: 08/12/2016

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