Menopause for Partners

Menopause signifies a significant transition in a woman’s life, marking the end of her potentially reproductive years.

As a partner to someone currently experiencing or soon to experience menopause, you may have noticed that there is a growing awareness of this life stage in the media. However, despite this increased attention, there still exists a lack of understanding, confusion, stigma, and myths surrounding menopause.

Understanding perimenopause is crucial for couples because it can be a challenging time if they are unaware of the reasons behind the changes happening. During perimenopause, the ovaries are still functioning but irregularly, leading to fluctuating oestrogen levels and unsettling symptoms.

Every person’s menopause experience is unique, so being prepared and maintaining open communication is crucial. Supporting your partner emotionally, providing help with researching resources, and accompanying her to appointments can make a significant difference. Encouraging a healthy lifestyle, such as dietary changes, exercise, and reducing alcohol, can help manage symptoms. 

Read on to find out more about the Menopause, and its associated symptoms, and remember that this journey, while challenging, is more manageable when undertaken as a team.

Most women, though not all, reach natural menopause around the average age of 51, with a typical range between 45 and 55 years.

Natural menopause is technically reached when a woman hasn’t had a period for more than 12 months. After this point, she is considered postmenopausal, a status that continues for the rest of her life.

Once menopause is reached, the ovaries cease to produce the reproductive hormones oestrogen and progesterone.

In females, the ovaries also produce testosterone, but this hormone starts declining in the early to mid-thirties. Testosterone plays essential roles in both men and women.

Some men may also experience a reduction in testosterone production as they age, sometimes referred to as ‘andropause.’

Oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are crucial hormones for women’s physical, psychological, and sexual well-being.

Other types of menopause:

  • Early menopause: Around 10% of women experience menopause between ages 40 and 45.
  • Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI): This is when menopause occurs before age 40, affecting at least 1 in 100 women.
  • Perimenopause: A phase lasting 2 to 12 years before natural menopause, during which menstrual periods may still occur but can be irregular.

Some women don’t experience natural menopause but enter menopause due to medical interventions, such as the removal of the ovaries during a hysterectomy.

Other treatments like chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or specific cancer treatments can induce menopause.

When menopause is medically induced, it’s typically sudden and often associated with more severe symptoms.

Symptoms of perimenopause and menopause can overlap and change over months or years, and can be challenging for both partners to navigate.

Common physical symptoms include:

  • migraine episodes;
  • fatigue;
  • hot sweats;
  • hot flushes;
  • joint and muscle pain; and/or
  • weight management challenges.


Psychological symptoms may manifest too as:

  • anxiety;
  • mood swings;
  • memory lapses;
  • difficulty concentrating; and
  • “brain fog.”

Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM) can affect the genital area, causing dryness, soreness, increased urinary urgency, and potential infections.

Physical affection and sexual intimacy can be hindered by menopause symptoms, impacting the couple’s relationship.  

Libido often decreases during menopause, causing difficulties in maintaining a fulfilling sexual life.

Contrary to the myth that menopause symptoms are short-lived, they can last an average of 5 to 8 years. Some symptoms, especially those affecting the genital area, may not improve without treatment.

Beyond symptom management, it’s essential to consider the long-term health implications of reduced hormone levels after menopause.  Oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone receptors are present throughout the body, and their decline can accelerate certain disease processes like heart disease, osteoporosis, and dementia.  The earlier menopause occurs, the greater the potential impact on future health.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is the most effective way to manage symptoms and reduce future health complications. HRT is generally safer than commonly believed.  Choosing the right type of HRT should be based on individual needs and symptoms.

Lifestyle changes, psychological therapy, or nutritional support can complement HRT.  While many over the counter or internet-sold “natural” remedies exist, scientific evidence supporting their effectiveness is limited, and some may have safety concerns.