It is best for menopausal women to visit the doctor with their partner, as it helps the doctor to assess how the relationship is affecting her symptoms, and enables the man to play an active role in the treatment process.
Offering to accompany a menopausal partner to the doctor is an important way of supporting her. She may be more willing to make the visit simply because she has a support person. You can also help by investigating where appropriate health professionals can be found, for example by finding out if there is a menopause nurse at the local family planning clinic, or investigating the resources available in the obstetrics and gynaecology department of the local hospital.
Women experience significant changes at menopause, and it’s difficult for those who are close to them not to notice. As her partner, you likely know her well and spend significant time with her, and are thus likely to notice mood changes more than others (and perhaps find yourself in the middle of a menopausal mood swing once in a while). All these changes can cause concern and anxiety, and you may wonder what you are doing wrong.
Education about the physical changes that occur at menopause and the symptoms they create can help reassure you that it’s all natural. It can also help you to be a more understanding partner and better express your support.
- Vaginal dryness;
- Reduced libido;
- Dyspareunia (pain during intercourse); and
- Reduce skin sensitivity and arousal.
Be aware that these symptoms occur in many menopausal women, and don’t be shocked if you observe these symptoms in your partner. It’s also important to bear in mind that non-sexual symptoms such as hot flushes and mood changes can indirectly affect a woman’s sexuality. For example, a woman who has poor quality sleep because of hot flushes may experience reduced libido because she is tired.
The sexual symptoms of menopause typically include:
Try to view menopause as a gradual transition – it’s important to realise that it will not happen overnight. Women may experience symptoms before their menstrual cycle changes and symptoms typically persist for several years. Don’t expect menopause to be over quickly; be prepared to support your partner for the long haul.
Men do not experience menopausal symptoms and it may be easy to point fingers at a menopausal partner, believing, for example, that she should deal with her quick temper or find some way to get herself in the mood for sex. Instead of blaming your huggle online partner, try to think of menopause and its symptoms as a stage of life that a couple experiences and faces together. Think about what you can do to help your partner cope, rather than focusing on changes she could make.
Talking is an important strategy for relieving psychological symptoms, which in turn impact on a woman’s libido and sexuality. You will never know exactly what a woman is feeling, but talking to her can help you better understand how she feels. Take the lead in communicating with her about her menopause experience. Don’t pretend to know what she is going through; instead, focus on listening and being empathetic.
You might start a discussion on menopausal symptoms by asking if there’s anything you can do to help. If you notice any changes such as bad moods or anxiety, bring them up with your partner in a caring way, for example by saying, “I’ve noticed you seem a bit stressed. Is everything okay?” Such a question opens the door for her to talk about her symptoms. It is also a way for you to show your support and that you care and pay attention to the way she acts.