Find out about the menopause
You can support the person best if you understand what the menopause is, how much it can vary, and what the effects can be. We offer lots of information about the menopause, or you can also check out the NHS or Women’s Health Concern.
Listen to their menopause experience
Simply being a sympathetic listener can be a real source of comfort and support. Since every experience of menopause is different, it can be tough to deal with something that’s very personal. So if you (or someone you know) had a different menopause experience, it may not be helpful to say so.
Many people struggle with menopause symptoms at work, or they may grieve the end of their ability to have children. Some find it hard to accept a new phase of life that makes them feel older (although others feel a new sense of liberation and certainty).
The person you care for may be struggling with physical and psychological menopause symptoms. They may feel exhausted, anxious and less confident. So when they look great, tell them – but if they’re looking tired, they don’t need to know.
They may like to be reminded of how much you appreciate them and enjoy their company. Most people feel a little lift when they get an unexpected treat or surprise, or when you draw attention to their achievements.
Don’t take their menopause personally
If the person going through menopause has mood swings, they may seem unfairly annoyed or impatient with you. It isn’t deliberate, so try to be understanding. It might also be frustrating if she can’t think straight or keeps forgetting things, but this sort of ‘brain fog’ is a genuine menopause symptom.
If you know that something’s out of the ordinary, then try to see it as what they’re experiencing rather than who they are. Instead of thinking ‘They’re being irritable with me,’ it’s more helpful to think ‘They wouldn’t normally be like this.’ Even so, always weigh up whether you might actually have done something to upset them. In other words, it would be equally unfair to put everything down to the menopause.
Help out with their menopause symptoms
Try to find ways to make the person you care for feel better both physically and emotionally. They will probably appreciate the kindness and support, and if they’re feeling stressed then you may have a clearer head for creative ideas or looking for helpful tips online.
Insomnia is a common menopause symptom, so do what you can to help them get enough sleep. If you’re both woken by their night sweats, you could get them a glass of cold water or a cool damp towel, or help them change the sheets.
Taking light exercise is good for body and mind, and it’s something you can do together – perhaps walking or bike riding. You could join them in adopting a healthy eating plan too, because women often put on weight during the menopause and can also find it harder to lose weight.
How should partners deal with the menopause?
- Stress that you’re in this together and ask how you can help.
- Reinforce the reasons why you’re together, and remind them of other challenges you’ve dealt with as a team.
- For more than half of women, the menopause causes changes to their sexual relationships. It’s important to find ways to work through this together.
- Think about getting professional help if you experience serious conflict during this time, perhaps from a relationship counsellor.
Often, just being there for someone is the best way to offer your support and show that you care.