Menopause is a unique experience every woman must go through in the 40s or 50s.
It is a significant turning point for women that comes along with drastic changes in physical and mental health.
Every woman experiences menopause or perimenopause differently, but it certainly causes some degree of pressure on the woman and her husband.
Many women feel they have an unsupportive husband during menopause.
In 2022, a survey among 1000 women highlighted the significant negative impact of menopause on marriage or couple relationships.
74% of women claimed menopause causes the breakdown of their relationships, and 67% think menopause leads to arguments and fights with their husbands.
Sadly, despite the alarming numbers, only 20% of women seek help discussing their problems in menopause.
As a husband, you may not be able to protect your better half from the troubles in menopause, but you certainly can do something to help her out and understand what women go through during menopause a bit better.
This article aims to serve as a men’s guide to menopause, explaining what you wish your husband knew about menopause.
Best ways for husband’s to support your partner through menopause
1. Understand what menopause is
Understanding menopause is the first step for you, the husband, to know how to support your wife during menopause. It will help give you an idea of what your partner is going through.
Understanding the various symptoms of menopause, their impact on your partner’s physical and psychological status, and ways to lessen the discomfort are important menopause tips for husbands.
Menopause is often intertwined with perimenopause. To put it in simple terms, perimenopause is a phase preceding menopause.
Women start experiencing hot flashes and irregular menses once they enter the perimenopause phase. This perimenopause period usually lasts 4 to 7 years, but in some women, it can persist for up to 14 years. On top of the potentially long period of discomfort, perimenopausal symptoms can worsen over the years.
Here are what husbands need to know about menopause symptoms:
Hot flashes (vasomotor symptoms)
This is a complex group of symptoms, so some women might not know how to explain hot flashes to a man. The majority of perimenopausal women experience hot flashes.
It is often described as a sudden feeling of heat that causes the face and neck to turn flushed, followed by heavy sweating, shivers, and sometimes rashes on the upper body.
Hot flashes last between 30 seconds to 10 minutes with varying frequency from a few minutes to a few weeks once.
Muscle, bone, and joint pain (musculoskeletal pain)
A review involving 5836 women undergoing menopause found that 71% have musculoskeletal pain, with a worsening degree of pain after attaining menopause.
Depression and anxiety
Perimenopausal women are prone to mood instability, and how to deal with wife’s mood swings is a headache for many men. The causes are multifactorial– hormonal effects, multiple stressors from children and the workplace, and disharmonious relationships when men are viewed as an unsupportive husband during menopause.
Urinary and genital problems (urogenital symptoms)
For example, vagina dryness, womb drops down (uterine prolapse), unable to control urination, and pain when having sex.
Low sex drive
According to studies, women aged 45 to 64 have a more significant problem with sex drive than younger and older women. Low female sex hormone (estrogen) in the perimenopausal stage was believed to be the cause.
2. Listen and encourage your partner
Now you already understand what your wife is going through, and you probably already have some ideas on how to deal with a woman going through menopause. Let’s read further to gain more menopause tips for husbands.
Communication is key. Every woman experiences menopause differently. Sometimes, a woman might not know how to explain menopause to her husband or refuse to talk about her feelings.
As a husband, it is crucial for you to actively show care– ask them how they feel and what is happening to them. Do not make assumptions about what they are experiencing.
Once they have opened up, listen to them patiently and do not judge or ignore them when they need a pair of hearing ears. Listen and give positive feedback, including words of encouragement to make them feel supported. Let them know they have a shoulder to lean on, and you are in it together.
Women viewed menopause as a life event associated with midlife and aging. Aside from physical ailments, the idea of aging itself might stress and exaggerate women’s mood swings further.
Wrinkles, weight gain, hair thinning, all these products of aging and menopause might make women worry more about their physical attractiveness. Therefore, men should be sensitive and know what not to say to a menopausal woman to uphold a stable husband and wife relationship during menopause.
The most obvious tip is not to criticize their looks, including words that might hurt their feelings, such as commenting on the clumps of hairs on the floor and clothes they no longer wear.
Some menopausal women might suffer from sleep problems and night sweats. Although we understand that you, as the bedmate, might get affected, please be considerate and know that they are things your wife cannot control, and they certainly do not wish to endure the suffering.
Do not blame them; instead, give your words of comfort and show you care about their suffering.
3. Accompany and help with their symptoms
The physical and emotional changes of menopause strongly affect women, training them to build resilience to face the challenges. Multiple coping strategies can enhance a woman’s well-being during menopause.
Still, it would be ideal if the husband could join in together with the woman’s journey with menopause symptoms. Accompany your wife when they are unwell and always stay by her side when she decides to try something new to improve her health.
If they need professional medical advice or proper treatment by a doctor, accompany them to attend the appointment and listen as if they are your own problems. You can also talk to her healthcare providers and ask questions so your wife can see you care about her health.
For muscle pain, weight control and regular exercise were proven effective in improving the symptoms. You may join them– inviting them to go for a walk, be their sports partner or even start practicing a healthy diet plan together with them.
Studies have found that pelvic floor exercises significantly improve sexual function for women with genitourinary symptoms. Other mind-body exercises such as yoga, Rusie Dutton, or pilates can also enhance the quality of sex life in menopause. Again, you can accompany them and have the exercises together with them.
If your wife is on hormone replacement therapy, keep an eye on their medication schedule and help to remind them if they forget to take the medication on time.
Tips about sex
According to a study analyzing thoughts of women undergoing menopause, many women think that sexual pleasure depends on one’s health conditions, family and marital relationships, as well as sociocultural background.
During menopause, rapid hormonal fluctuations can hit women’s sex drive. Women may find they are no longer interested in having sex, which can be very upsetting for them and their partners.
Other possible reasons that explain a loss in sex drive during menopause include:
- Genital problems. Vagina dryness may cause discomfort or even pain when having penetrative sex. Some women might have uterine prolapse– the drop-down womb into the vagina just makes sexual intercourse less desirable to them and their partners, even though having sex will not cause any harm or further deteriorate the condition.
- Night sweats. It can induce sleep problems, causing deprivation of energy for sex.
- Emotional stress. Depression and anxiety induced by hormonal fluctuations can make the woman lose interest in sex.
Again, communication is vital. Ask about your wife’s feelings and what makes her feel good and uncomfortable.
Here are a few other menopause tips for husbands to improve their sex life with wives in menopause:
Many over-the-counter moisturizers help ease vaginal dryness. If the first one doesn’t help, try the next one until you find one favorable to both of you.
Have other forms of intimacies
Spend time together on any possible chances. Warm dinner conversations, watching a movie together, and holding hands while walking in the park can make you feel close to each other. These fine-tuning relationship skills help prevent menopause relationship breakdown.
Your wife might not want sex now, but that doesn’t mean they will not like it next time.
One important thing to remember is that women in perimenopause can still get pregnant. Menopause can only be confirmed after a year of having no menses. Therefore, you and your wife should practice contraception for family planning purposes.
Every woman experiences menopause differently. Menopause transition affects not only women but also their husbands and other family members.
Many women feel like they have an unsupportive husband during menopause and wish their partner had a better understanding of what women go through and how to help them.
Listening, accompanying, and supporting are keys to how a husband can support his wife going through menopause.
Practice these menopause tips for husbands to reduce the adverse effects of menopause on marriage.