The Menopause

6 ways to support your partner during the menopause

Understanding how to support your partner through the menopause can be one of the most beneficial ways that you can strengthen your relationship. With fluctuations in hormones and energy levels, along with physical and emotional changes, this period in life can feel hugely challenging for many women. However, having a supportive partner can make all the difference.

“Positive psychology reinforces that relationships are fundamental to our wellbeing, in fact, the experiences that contribute to our wellbeing are often amplified through our relationships,” says Dal Banwait, a positive psychology coach. “Being comfortable having these conversations around hormonal changes can be incredibly constructive and worthwhile.”

While it can be difficult to best know how to support your partner during the menopause, there are plenty of ways you can help.

How does the menopause impact your partner?

“The menopause can be a challenging time, both for the woman experiencing symptoms and for those close to them,” says Dr Dawn Harper, a practising NHS GP specialising in women’s health. “Each woman’s menopause is personal and unique. But the importance of information, support, empathy, and patience is key.”

It can help to become familiar with some of the common signs and symptoms of the menopause, such as:

“Understanding exactly what goes on through the menopause can go a long way in helping women and teach you how to work alongside them to improve the experience,” says Dr Harper.

If you want to support your partner further, there are practical ways you can help, as our experts explain.

6 ways you can support your partner during the menopause

Lean into difficult conversations

“Opening communication up, is vital,” says Dal. “Some partners feel uncomfortable talking about menopause but without having those honest discussions, both of you can end up feeling confused and helpless.”

Hormone fluctuations during the menopause can often cause some difficult emotions to arise, such as anger and anxiety. Knowing not to take this personally and working on better ways to communicate hard emotions and frustration can help you and your partner navigate them.

“Partners who struggle to understand their partner’s emotions and feelings find it easier to ignore them, but this just results in both parties feeling isolated,” says Dal. “Don’t avoid those hard emotions. Make this a time to listen and show mutual support rather than estrangement. Create a safe place to discuss how they feel, without judgement. Communication here is key, but don’t push your partner if they don’t feel ready to talk.”

Tune into their needs

“You can offer support at a very basic level such as sharing more of the household chores, so your partner has more time for self-care,” says Dal. “Simple actions, such as turning on the fan or getting a cool glass of water when they have a hot flush can really make a difference and help them feel supported.”

Check in emotionally with your partner as well. If they’re struggling with anxiety, then knowing that you’re conscious of this can help them feel more supported.

Show your partner you appreciate them

“Women often question how loved they are during this time, as there is a link between the drop in estrogen and a reduction in happy chemicals serotonin and oxytocin (the love, cuddle hormone),” says Dal.

Loss of libido, vaginal dryness, bleeding, or pain during intercourse is a common consequence of menopause, but your partner will still want to feel desired and appreciated during this time.

“Keep up levels of romance and intimacy with your partner,” says Dal. “If your partner is struggling with their libido or vaginal dryness, then don’t avoid intimacy; embrace it and work with each other to explore new ways of intimacy that you can both enjoy. It’s important for both partners to see menopause as an evolution of the relationship, and one that can take it in a positive direction.”

Know that the menopause isn’t linear

One of the biggest challenges that women going through the menopause face is the wide variety of symptoms that they can experience during this time. There are also lesser known symptoms of the menopause, such as hearing loss, brain fog and dry, itchy skin, that can impact women at different points during this hormonal shift.

“Some women have symptoms for just a few weeks or months, while others may struggle for over a decade; but the menopause doesn’t last forever,” says Dawn. “You will both come out the other side.”

Be ready to reassure

“The physical and emotional symptoms of the menopause can leave women feeling unattractive,” says Dawn. “It often coincides with a time when any children may be leaving the nest, which has its own impact on a woman’s wellbeing.”

Disturbed sleep, weight gain and vaginal dryness often lead to a loss of libido, which can impact your sexual relationship and your intimacy.

“Try to reassure your partner that you still find her attractive through words and actions and be open to learning about new ways you can improve your relationship,” Dawn adds.

Be open to change

As well as navigating hormonal changes, the menopause can leave many women feeling like they’ve entered a new stage of life. This change in outlook can be a positive thing in your relationship if you’re open to your partner’s changing needs.

“Many women are left confused by all the symptoms of menopause,” says Dal. “And some are coming to terms with a loss of fertility and the impact of ageing. At this stage in life, there are also other competing demands such as increased responsibility at work, ‘empty nest syndrome’, as well as balancing caring for children and ageing parents.

“Some women can view menopause as an opportunity, there is often a realisation that life isn’t infinite, so they may seize this as a time to implement change in their life from careers to hobbies. Support these discussions and be on hand to reassure.”

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