“There are many menopause symptoms that may impact on a woman’s relationships, especially the one with her intimate partner”.1

Umbrella
What may the Menopause Relationships Umbrella include?

Depending on the Source (DotS) this Umbrella may include:

  • Partners
  • Relationships

Menopause

How may menopause impact on a woman’s relationships?

In Information for Partners: When Your Partner Is Going Through Menopause the (Australian) Jean Hailes for Women’s Health (JH) elaborate on:

“There are many menopause symptoms that may impact on a woman’s relationships, especially the one with her intimate partner. It is important that you have some understanding of what is happening to your partner and realise that she is experiencing some major life and body changes that are out of her control. It will take time for her to work out the best way to approach and manage menopause and her symptoms”.2

Menopause Symptoms

What are some menopause symptoms?

In Perimenopause – Fact Sheet: Symptoms the JH explain:

“Symptoms can include any of the following:

  • Hot flushes
  • Night sweats
  • Irregular periods
  • Problems with falling asleep, staying asleep and sleep quality
  • Breast tenderness
  • Itchy/crawly/dry skin
  • Exhaustion
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Loss of libido (sex drive – talk to your doctor about sexual function if this concerns you)
  • Migraines
  • More pronounced premenstrual tension
  • Mood changes, such as feeling more teary and irritable. Anxiety may also occur
  • Weight gain, despite no changes to diet or exercise, due to the metabolism slowing down”.3

Sex

Is there an association between sex and menopause relationships?

In Information for Partners: Sex & Menopause the JH elaborate on:

“A key issue for couples and relationships may be that your partner is no longer keen to have sex. This can be for a range of reasons related to menopause symptoms. One key symptom is a dry vagina: Lower levels of oestrogen directly affect a woman’s vagina and can make it thinner, drier and less elastic. Also, testosterone levels fall gradually with age and this can have an impact on a woman’s level of desire at menopause”.4

In Menopause: Relationships, Sex and Contraception and the Menopause [Video Interview Stories] Healthtalk.org elaborate on:

“In any relationship there are times when couples face challenges. The menopause can be one such time. Faced with a loss of sex drive and other symptoms which make them feel hot, anxious and uncomfortable, women may find they no longer want to have sex as much as they did before the menopause. Communication can become strained, with partners feeling rejected and at a loss to know how best to support their menopausal partner. Women told us how their symptoms affected their relationships, and about sex and contraception during the menopause”.5

In Relationships the JH elaborate on:

Menopause Relationships“The impact of sexual problems on a relationship can be significant. Painful sex (dyspareunia), problems with libido, physical changes such as menopause can all impact on your sex life and your relationship. Consider having an open discussion with your partner and/or a health professional about how you feel. If you’ve been avoiding sex this can be especially difficult. But if you do find support, it can build intimacy and help you to manage your sexual relationship more honestly. The good news is there are strategies to help you”.6

Menopause or Not

Does menopause cause all sexual problems during this time?

Not necessarily. In Relationships: Relationships & Painful Sex the JH elaborate on:

“For women approaching menopause who are experiencing sexual problems in a relationship, it is helpful to sort out how much is due to the physical symptoms of menopause rather than other sexual issues. It can be difficult to know if menopause influences your relationship with your partner, or if the relationship you have with your partner influences your experience of menopause”.7

Partner Help

How may partners help their loved one who is experiencing changes associated with menopause?

In Information for Partners: Relationships the JH elaborate on:

“It is often difficult for partners to know how to help when their loved one is experiencing changes associated with menopause. Jean Hailes has put together a list of suggestions that may be helpful:

  • Listening is often better than trying to fix things…
  • Understanding ‘menopause’…
  • Menopause is an individual experience…
  • Understanding the priorities…
  • Changes you might make…
  • Consider going to the doctor together…
  • If there are relationship problems, try to discuss how you’re feeling…
  • What else is going on…
  • Communicate…
  • It’s not about you….
  • It may not be menopause…
  • Seek help from a range of practitioners if appropriate…”.8

In Perimenopause – Fact Sheet: Supporting Your Partner Through Perimenopause the JH elaborate on:

“Tips that can help both of you include:

  • Reading up about menopause. Ask her which symptoms are affecting her the most and show her more understanding
  • Engaging in non-sexual ‘no strings attached’ physical contact, such as hugs and back rubs. Hormonal changes can make a woman’s vagina dry and sex uncomfortable, which may mean she does not feel like having sex as much, or at all. If engaging in penetrative sex, make sure you use a good-quality lubricant designed for women
  • Sleeping alone when necessary – some women prefer this due to the hot flushes and associated discomfort that can accompany menopause, so that both she and her partner can sleep more comfortably
  • Listening and asking questions. Instead of suggesting how to ‘fix’ things, listen and ask her how she is feeling…”.9

Health Care Provider

What if I would like help with my relationship?

If you would like help with your relationship, it may be in your best interest to choose to talk to your health care provider about this.

In Marriage Counseling: Procedure Details — Why It’s Done the (United States) Mayo Clinic elaborate on:

“Marriage counseling can help couples in all types of intimate relationships — regardless of sexual orientation or marriage status”.10

Health Topics A-Z

Where may I find Health Topics related to Menopause Relationships?

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Links

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Sources

Where may I find the Sources quoted?

You may find the Sources quoted at:

Sources

  1. Information for Partners: When Your Partner Is Going Through Menopause. Last Updated: 14 January 2020 | Last Reviewed: 03 March 2014. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/menopause/information-for-partners Accessed: 22 June 2020
  2. Information for Partners: When Your Partner Is Going Through Menopause. Last Updated: 14 January 2020 | Last Reviewed: 03 March 2014. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/menopause/information-for-partners Accessed: 22 June 2020
  3. Perimenopause – Fact Sheet: : Supporting Your Partner Through Perimenopause. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/resources/perimenopause-fact-sheet Accessed: 22 June 2020
  4. Information for Partners: Sex & Menopause. Last Updated: 14 January 2020 | Last Reviewed: 03 March 2014. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/menopause/information-for-partners Accessed: 22 June 2020
  5. Menopause: Relationships, Sex and Contraception and the Menopause. Last Reviewed: July 2018. Healthtalk.org https://www.healthtalk.org/menopause/relationships-sex-and-contraception-and-the-menopause Accessed: 22 June 2020
  6. Relationships. Last Updated: 10 January 2020| Last Reviewed: 02 December 2013. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/sex-sexual-health/relationships Accessed: 22 June 2020
  7. Relationships: Relationships & Painful Sex. Last Updated: 10 January 2020 | Last Reviewed: 02 December 2013. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/sex-sexual-health/relationships Accessed: 22 June 2020
  8. Information for Partners: Relationships. Last Updated: 14 January 2020 | Last Reviewed: 03 March 2014. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/menopause/information-for-partners Accessed: 22 June 2020
  9. Perimenopause – Fact Sheet: : Supporting Your Partner Through Perimenopause. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/resources/perimenopause-fact-sheet Accessed: 22 June 2020
  10. Marriage Counseling: Basics — Why It’s Done. 04 November 2017. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/marriage-counseling/about/pac-20385249 Accessed: 22 June 2020
Topic Last Updated: 01 July 2020 — Topic Last Reviewed: 22 June 2020
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