• Photo by Priscilla Du Preez

Menopause: The Partner’s Complete Guide to Menopause

Menopause affects all women and is a normal event, but the symptoms and severity can vary greatly and affect all aspects of a women’s life. However, it can also be difficult for partners to know how best to support their loved ones. Here, our Women’s Health Lead and menopause specialist, Dr Verity Biggs, gives partners all the information they need to know about menopause.

Dr Verity Biggs
Dr Verity BiggsWomen's Health and Menopause Lead

Dr Verity Biggs is a Women’s health specialist and our female health lead.

You can find out more about Dr Biggs by viewing her latest articles and biography .

So, what exactly is menopause?

This is when women stop having periods and hormone levels drop.  The average age is 51 years old when this happens in the UK.  But periods can change a lot before this happens.  Some women get “flooding”, when they can experience a sudden gush of heavy blood loss and this means that they can leak through any sanitary protection, often soiling clothes and seats and can be highly problematic and embarrassing when it happens in public.  Other women may start skipping periods.

And what are the symptoms of menopause?

Symptoms of menopause can start before any changes in their periods, and some months the symptoms may be worse than others.  Symptoms often start in mid-forties but can be earlier, and symptoms can continue in their 60’s and 70’s and sometimes longer.  The symptoms vary, some may be mild and others severe and can include:

  • Hot flushes – sudden onset of facial or whole-body flushing
  • Night sweats – often wake up drenched and may need to change bed clothes or sheets
  • Poor sleep – unable to get to sleep or waking frequently or early.
  • Mood changes – irritable, tearful, low and anxiousness can occur
  • Fatigue – no energy or motivation
  • Joint and muscle pains
  • Brain fog – poor concentration, memory lapses
  • Lack of libido – including lack of interest and lack of pleasure
  • Vaginal and vulval symptoms – dryness, thinning tissues, itchy and inflamed, which can make intercourse uncomfortable or painful
  • Urinary symptoms – urge to go to the toilet suddenly or more often and may feel like they have a water infection
  • Hair and skin changes – dry skin, itchy, hair thinning, nails break and split

You can read more about menopause here and more about the questions we get asked about menopause here.

How might it affect my partner?

Menopause affects all women and is a normal event, but the symptoms and severity can vary greatly and affect all aspects of a women’s life.

Symptoms can affect work life, family life and relationships, and can cause strain.  During the early stages of perimenopause, women often don’t realise that changes are happening, and it can take a while for the individual to link the symptoms.

And how can I support them?

You’ve already taken the first step, which is to learn about menopause and trying to understand what she is going through. You might also encourage her to seek help and support, but other things might help too, for example:

  • Be patient
  • An irritable mood may mean more snapping, so resist that urge to snap back
  • Support her need for time alone and silence
  • Although sex might not be on the agenda, physical contact is still important

What if we need further support?

If you or your partner would like to speak to a specialist about the symptoms or any other aspect of menopause then book an appointment now with our menopause team, led by Dr Verity Biggs, here.