Supporting your spouse through menopause is a critical component of a healthy relationship. Unfortunately, awareness about menopause is low—even among the women going through it. Studies have shown that more education about what happens during menopause improves women’s quality of life. So, if you’re married to someone menopausal, check out our guide below to know what to expect and how to help them through this transitional time.
What to Expect During Menopause
Menopause is technically only one day: the day your partner has gone a full year without a menstrual period. Perimenopause is the period before menopause when her symptoms begin, and it can start eight to ten years before menopause. During this time, estrogen production slows, which causes a number of other changes throughout her body. She may experience insomnia, vaginal dryness, mood swings, and hot flashes—or, rarely, no symptoms at all. Menopause usually happens when women are in their forties or fifties, and the average age of menopause in the US is 51.
Often, menopause occurs when children (if you have them) are leaving home. This means you may be spending more time with your partner alone than you have in decades. Being a supportive partner can help promote a healthy relationship and give you the connection and intimacy needed in order to welcome the next phase of life together.
How to Support Your Partner Emotionally During Menopause
The best way to support your partner during menopause is to talk about it. Every woman’s menopause experience is different, and there isn’t a tried-and-true method for predicting how menopause will affect your partner. Since menopause continues to be a taboo subject, many women will not initiate the conversation. Asking her about how you can help support her is a great way to open a discussion.
Prepare for some mood swings. Her hormones are shifting, which can cause some turbulence. Eating healthier and getting exercise can help curb some of the mood swings, so plan to make healthy changes together. However, if she seems to have had an extreme mood change, reach out to a therapist, as menopause puts women at higher risk for depression.
Encourage her to get enough sleep. Insomnia is a common menopausal complaint, in part due to night sweats. Without enough sleep, her mood will undoubtedly be affected. Ensuring that you’re both well rested can help prevent unnecessary fights and irritability.
Have patience with your sex life. Sometimes women experience a decrease in libido during menopause due to the decline in hormone production. Coupled with an increased likelihood of weight gain, many women feel reluctant to get intimate. Try not to take this personally. Menopause is temporary, and it’s critical to keep some perspective. If this becomes a serious issue, reach out to a therapist or doctor together for additional support.
How to Support Your Partner Physically During Menopause
Wear layers. Hot flashes are the most commonly reported menopausal symptom in America, and they can be incredibly uncomfortable. If turning the temperature down in the bedroom at night helps her avoid hot flashes, you’ll want to wear something warm so that you can sleep comfortably as well.
If vaginal dryness is causing her discomfort, talk with her about finding a solution. A common misconception is that menopausal women must learn to live with the “new normal” of vaginal dryness. Clinically supported options are available (and Membrasin®’s products are hormone free!).
Supporting your partner through menopause takes some initiative, but it’s worth it for both of you. And remember, when menopause is over, your partner will likely feel like herself again. You both have a lot to look forward to—especially because many women feel even better after menopause.