From hot flushes to hormone rushes, menopause is a challenging time for women – and it can sometimes be difficult for those around them to know how to help!
Here we explain some of the difficulties your partner may be facing, and offer some practical tips on how you can help to support the lady in your life through the menopause.
Know what to expect
Having a basic understanding of what happens during the menopause can help you to anticipate how your partner might be feeling. Menopause isn’t just about the end of a woman’s periods or her ability to have children. It is a physical process of transition, which normally takes several years, and which is different for every woman. However, most women will experience some common symptoms.
In the years leading up to menopause, known as ‘perimenopause’, a woman’s hormone levels begin to change. This can cause a range of issues, including mood swings, night sweats and hot flushes (also known as hot flashes), tiredness, weight gain, headaches, irregular periods, brain fog and issues with sleeping.
On top of the physical symptoms, there may be other big changes happening in your partner’s life, such as the children leaving home, or caring for ageing parents. Put all this together, and it’s not surprising that she might be having a hard time!
Be a good listener
Women going through the menopause often feel a range of different emotions. You may find that your partner gets angry, sad or depressed, easily overwhelmed, or suddenly emotional about things which might normally seem quite trivial. In fact, it’s the emotional side of things which can often be one of the most challenging – and sometimes bewildering – things about the menopause.
It’s important to take how she feels seriously. If she’s feeling angry or frustrated, give her some space, and allow her to let off steam if she needs to. If she is anxious or emotional, encourage her to talk about it.
Remember, you don’t have to be able to solve all her problems! Just listening to her, and showing that you are interested in how she is feeling, can make a big difference.
Offer practical support
While you can’t take away her symptoms, you can take some steps to help minimise their effects.
Problems with sleeping, or insomnia, are very common during the menopause – and a lack of sleep will make it even harder for your partner to cope with day to day life. Hot flushes and night sweats are another common problem, which can be very uncomfortable and stressful for your partner.
You can help to create a better sleeping environment for your partner, by making sure the bedroom is dark, cool and well ventilated – using blackout blinds or a fan can help. Be prepared to swap the duvet for lighter bedsheets made from a natural material like cotton or bamboo. Wearing loose, breathable nightwear can also help to reduce the impact of night sweats – why not treat her to a pair of bamboo pyjamas, which are naturally soft, comfortable and moisture absorbent? Keep a jug of iced water by the bed to help her to stay cool. And to help her drop off, try using some lavender sleep spray on her pillow.
You can view a range of Live Better With products designed to help with getting a good night’s sleep here.
If she’s feeling tired or overwhelmed, helping out with any errands and household chores will also help to ease the pressure on your partner. If you have any plans coming up which you know will be stressful for her, such as visiting family members, try to optimise the timing and make things as easy for her as possible.
Show her you care
You might find that your wife or partner feels less attractive or sexy as she approaches menopause, and she may have feelings of low self-esteem as a result of the changes to her hormones and her body. You can help to reassure her by offering her some genuine compliments, and reminding her of the things you admire about her. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge that you are getting older, too!
If your partner is worried about her weight, you can offer encouragement by supporting her with any healthy eating or exercise plans. Offer to go food shopping with her, or suggest you go for a walk together. Let her lead the way on these things, though.
Small, spontaneous gestures, such as running her a bath, cooking her dinner or buying her flowers can all help to make her feel cherished and cared for, and give her a much-needed boost.
Be patient in the bedroom
When a woman goes through the menopause, changing hormone levels can affect her sex drive (libido), and cause changes to her body (such as vaginal dryness), which can make sex uncomfortable or even painful.
It’s important to listen to your partner, and avoid making her feel that she’s under any pressure. Focus on other ways of being close for the time being, such as cuddle on the sofa, a relaxing massage, or a dinner date and a movie.
You can view a range of Live Better With products designed to help with sexual intimacy here.
Support her interests
Menopause often happens alongside other key life events, such as the children leaving home, leading to ’empty nest’ syndrome – and causing some women to question their identity or their role in life.
Now may be a good opportunity for you to try some new activities. Try looking for some common interests to pursue as a couple, to help you feel connected, or support your partner in taking up a new hobby or interest of her own. Talking to her about her interests will offer her encouragement and show that you care about her.
Seek help if you need to
Finally, if your partner seems to be particularly depressed or withdrawn, or if you are struggling to cope as a couple, it might be time to get some help from your doctor.
Counselling can help many women to deal with the symptoms of the menopause. By offering to attend any appointments with your partner, you can reassure her that you are in this together.
Menopause can be a physical and emotional roller coaster. However, by being patient and understanding, and offering your partner emotional and practical support, you can make all the difference.