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 healthtalk.org.

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

Ratings

How helpful is this page?

Average rating

Based on 35 ratings

All ratings

Add your rating

Comments

The 4 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

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.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

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.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

LS83 said on 29 September 2008

have a look at the NHS guide to depression-it is pretty comprehensive
http://www.nhs.uk/Pathways/depression/Pages/Avoiding.aspx

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

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

Thanks

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Services near you

Find addresses, phone numbers and websites for services near you

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

Your NHS Health Check

Millions of people have already had their free "midlife MOT". Find out why this health check-up is so important

Sex after the menopause

When the menopause hits, so can sexual problems. But there is a range of solutions

Menopause

Find out about HRT, early menopause, supporting your partner and how to deal with symptoms

Take a LifeCheck

Link to NHS LifeCheck.

A few moments spent now could add years to your life.