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Information for partners

When your partner goes through menopause, different hormonal changes will affect their body, health, energy levels and mood. They may also have different emotions about coming to the end of their reproductive years.

While every woman’s experience is different, it’s a good idea to learn about menopause and related symptoms so you can support them through this time.

Topics on this page

What is menopause?

Menopause is a woman’s final menstrual period. It’s a normal and healthy part of ageing.

A woman has reached menopause if they haven’t had a period for 12 months.

Menopause usually happens between 45 and 55 years of age, but it can happen earlier or later, up to around 60 years. Menopause may happen earlier because of cancer treatment, surgery or other unknown causes.

What is perimenopause?

Perimenopause is the lead-up to menopause. Perimenopause usually starts when a woman is in her 40s. On average, it lasts four to six years, but it can last anywhere from one to ten years. It’s very common for women to have physical and emotional symptoms during perimenopause.

What happens at menopause?

During the menopause transition, the levels of female hormones oestrogen and progesterone decline, and the ovaries stop releasing eggs. A woman can still get pregnant during perimenopause, but not after menopause.

All women experience menopause differently. Some have very few symptoms and others have more severe symptoms that affect their daily life.

Common symptoms

Women can have a range of physical and emotional symptoms around the time of menopause. These include:

Physical symptoms

  • irregular periods
  • hot flushes
  • night sweats
  • sleep problems
  • sore breasts
  • itchy, crawly or dry skin
  • exhaustion and fatigue
  • vaginal dryness
  • loss of sex drive (libido)
  • headaches or migraines
  • more pronounced premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • aches and pains
  • bloating
  • urinary problems
  • weight gain, due to a slower metabolism.

Emotional symptoms

  • feeling irritable or frustrated
  • feeling anxious
  • difficulty concentrating
  • forgetfulness
  • lowered mood
  • mood swings
  • feeling you can’t cope as well as you used to.

Mood and menopause

One aspect of menopause that you might notice is mood swings. This is caused by changing hormone levels. It’s common for women to feel irritable or angry, have a low mood, or even feel depressed or anxious.

You may feel that leaving your partner alone to deal with this is the best approach, but it’s important to support them during this time.

Sex and menopause

It’s common for women to have lower sex drive (libido) during menopause. This could be due to many things, including changing hormone levels, vaginal atrophy, vaginal dryness (which can cause discomfort during sex) and lowered mood and fatigue.

Dry vagina treatments

Menopausal hormone treatment (MHT), vaginal oestrogen and vaginal moisturisers can help treat a dry vagina. Lubricants may also relieve discomfort during sex. Learn more about managing bladder, vaginal and vulval problems.

It’s common for women to be anxious about sex even if they feel physically better. If this happens, you could suggest an appointment with their doctor to learn about different treatments options. You could also encourage your partner to have more ‘me time’ (for example, yoga, relaxation or meditation classes).

Tips to support your partner

There are many things you can do to help your partner through the different stages of menopause.

For example:

  • listen and be supportive
  • understand that some (not all) mood changes may be due to menopause
  • allow your partner to express their feelings, even if you don’t understand them
  • ask your partner to help you understand their symptoms
  • encourage your partner to talk about what they need and when they need it
  • keep an open mind about why your partner may be acting differently
  • support your partner to make healthy choices, like eating healthy food and reducing alcohol consumption (which can affect menopausal symptoms)
  • be patient when it comes to sex – and find other ways to be intimate
  • go with your partner to medical appointments or counselling (if required).
Download our fact sheets and booklet

This web page is designed to be informative and educational. It is not intended to provide specific medical advice or replace advice from your health practitioner. The information above is based on current medical knowledge, evidence and practice as at August 2022.

Last updated: 20 September 2022 | Last reviewed: 19 August 2022

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