Best Ways to Support a Partner During Menopause

Menopause can be a challenging time for some couples. Knowing how to support your partner through menopause can make it easier for you both. That said, few people instinctively know what to do or say or how to help.

A good place to start is learning about menopause and its physical and emotional symptoms. This can help you better understand your partner's experience and anticipate their mood. You'll also benefit from fine-tuning your relationship skills and improving communication.

This article provides menopause tips for partners. It discusses the changes that occur during menopause and how to support your partner through them. It also explains how to communicate better and avoid misunderstandings.

Romantic senior couple at home expressing their love
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Your Partner and Menopause

Menopause can be a lengthy transition. It commonly begins between ages 45 and 55 and typically lasts seven years. However, some people experience uncomfortable symptoms for as long as 14 years.

Menopause marks the end of menstruation and fertility. Hormone levels decrease, which can cause your partner's sex drive to plummet. This can also cause your partner to gain weight around the waistline while also losing breast tissue. (Tip: It is wise not to mention any weight changes.)

The physical and hormonal changes of menopause can trigger negative emotions. A person undergoing menopause may feel old, unattractive, and that they lack sex appeal.

You can support your partner by giving them compliments and assuring them you still find them attractive. It's also important to recognize they may be less interested in sex. Try not to take any rejection of your advances personally.

Recognizing Symptoms

Learning the symptoms of menopause can help you understand what your partner is going through. While the experience is different for everyone, research shows the most bothersome menopause symptoms include:

Menopause can also cause joint and muscle pain that leaves your partner feeling achy, weak, and tired. Memory problems can be common, and your partner may be more forgetful. What's more, they may be dealing with embarrassing bladder leakage from stress or urge incontinence.

You can support your partner through difficult menopause symptoms by:

  • Asking how you can help
  • Avoiding negative comments
  • Helping to set reminders
  • Letting them control the thermostat
  • Massaging sore muscles
  • Not making fun of bladder leaks
  • Taking some tasks off their workload
  • Understanding they may not be feeling their best

Anticipating Moods

Not everyone undergoing menopause has mood swings. Some people, in fact, look forward to the transition and feel strong, happy, and hopeful. Removed from the pressures of their monthly cycles, some view it as a new freedom to live as they please.

When your partner is undergoing menopause, don't assume that the worst will happen; it may not. On the flip side, if a bad mood develops, don't assume that menopause is to blame.

Mood swings, by definition, are sudden and often chronic changes in mood that disrupt one's daily life, including work and relationships. They are not simply the occasional bad day.

If mood swings occur as part of menopause, recognizing them and responding accordingly can help you both deal with them as a couple.

If your partner experiences mood swings, remind yourself that they are due to hormones. But, rather than pointing this out, try to give your partner some grace. Focus on adjusting your response and try not to take it personally.

Fine-Tuning Relationship Skills

Partners typically don't discuss how to be supportive once menopause arrives. This can be a challenge, given that partners often spend more time together at this stage of life. For some couples, more time together can be both good and bad news.

At the beginning of this "next phase" of your relationship, it is important to fine-tune your relationship skills. Start by discussing menopause and your willingness to weather the changes it can bring.

It also helps to discuss "rules" to help you over sudden impasses or trauma. This may involve knowing the following:

  • When your partner needs to be alone
  • When your partner needs support
  • When it is time to step away from a fight
  • How to calmly discuss feelings when things get tough

Doing so can strengthen a relationship by affirming that you are in this together. Taking an interest in your loved one's interest can also help.

Improving Communication

It is important to be able to talk with your partner about their menopause experiences. Tell your partner you want to be helpful so they know that you are on their side. If you don't know how to help, you can simply ask, “What can I do to make things better?"

Communication doesn't come naturally for everyone, but it is a skill that can be learned. The following tips can help.

Practice Patience

If your loved one tells you that they "cannot control themselves," believe them and be patient. Patience is vital in both the short and long term. Menopause is not a "problem" to get over. It is a change in life that allows you to prepare for this next stage in your relationship as a couple.

Keep a Sense of Humor

A sense of humor can help couples weather challenging times. Keeping your sense of humor can remind your loved one that your relationship can still be fun. 

At the same time, use good judgment. Avoid jokes that may offend your partner or have them feel like you are laughing at them instead of with them. Also, be careful not to use humor as a weapon to express sarcasm or to vent.

Avoid Personalizing Moods

If your partner gets upset, don’t turn their upset into your upset. Allow your partner to be angry, sad, or frustrated, and try to listen without judgment. Expressing understanding goes a long way toward turning a mood swing into a confrontation.

If an argument or attack gets personal, take a time out. Suggest that it may be time for you to step away because of how you are feeling (rather than what your partner is doing).

Express Approval

Don't leave things unsaid. If you are not someone who easily expresses appreciation or admiration, now is the time to learn. Don't rely on the cliché that you are the "strong, silent type."

If your partner looks attractive, say so. Remind them what qualities drew you together—and still hold you together—as a couple. You can even plan the occasional surprise gift or dinner outing to show your appreciation.

If you find it unnatural to express praise, say so, but still try to make an effort. It means more than you can imagine. Over time, expressing appreciation may become natural to you.

Practical Tips for Dealing With Menopause

In addition to education and communication skills, there are some practical things you can do. These tips can improve the life of someone undergoing menopause.

Offer to Help

Menopause can trigger anxiety and cause your loved one to become easily overwhelmed. Doing simple things like washing the dishes or cleaning the living room helps ease a hectic schedule.

Planning ahead also helps. Things that break a normal routine can cause stress. A home repair, a visit from relatives, or a work deadline can provoke anxiety and tension. Discuss in advance what you can do to lift some of the burdens. Being proactive rather than reactive is always the better option.

Manage Sleep Problems

Sleep issues like insomnia are common during menopause. Discuss how to deal with them together. This may involve exploring CPAP therapy if there is sleep apnea and improving sleep hygiene practices.

If you snore, you can help by occasionally sleeping in another room if your partner has insomnia. A good night's sleep can go a long way to improving anyone's mood.

Get Healthy Together

Research shows exercise and good nutrition help to ease menopause symptoms and improve moods. You can support your loved one in making healthy changes by doing it together.

In fact, a 2021 study found exercising with a romantic partner makes it easier to get into a consistent exercise routine. What’s more, couples in the study who exercised together reported greater satisfaction in their relationship. 

Offer to take nightly walks or weekend bike rides. Consider joining a gym or pool together. These can become healthy rituals that you can both feel good about. 

If your partner wants or needs to change their diet, try sharing the experience together. Consider helping to shop or cook. Try out new recipes together and enjoy the same meals as your partner.

Tips About Sex

Sex is a common relationship struggle during the menopausal years. It is common for libido to wane, and one partner may want sex more than the other.

In addition, vaginal changes during menopause can make sex uncomfortable. Vaginal dryness combined with thinning tissue can cause intercourse to be painful. If this happens, encourage a discussion with your partner's gynecologist. There are certain treatments, like estrogen cream, that can help.

The trick is to find the right balance of intimacy and sexuality. Focus for a while on staying physically close rather than having intercourse. Ask what makes your partner feel good and offer to do it. Sometimes, it may be a simple foot rub or shoulder massage that keeps you both connected.

If your sexual appetites are different and there doesn’t seem to be a way to reconcile them, it may be time to consult a sex therapist. These professionals can help you find the middle ground and improve sexual communication skills as well.

A Word From Verywell

Menopause effects each individual differently. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to help a couple through this otherwise normal transition. The important thing is to be supportive. Pay attention, ask questions, and remind yourself that these challenges involve both of you as a couple.

If you are having difficulty coping, consider couples counseling. There is no shame in getting help. Working with a therapist can provide you with tools to improve your relationship and whatever challenges lie ahead.

6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Kate Bracy, RN, NP
Kate Bracy, RN, MS, NP, is a registered nurse and certified nurse practitioner who specializes in women's health and family planning.