While some women go through menopause without any symptoms, for many it can cause changes which are both challenging and complicated.
Over half of women going through menopause or perimenopause say it is a negative experience, while 77% say it would be beneficial if everyone understood menopause better.
There are many ways in which you can support a family member or a loved one going through this phase of life:
Learning about the various potential symptoms of menopause will give you a greater understanding and help you to empathise with the person going through it
use positive language:
Menopause has historically been under-discussed, leading to a lack of knowledge and a general reluctance to speak about what is a very natural part of the ageing process. Lead by example by engaging in conversations about menopause and its symptoms
listen to them:
Ask the person how they feel. Bear in mind that they may not wish to discuss all of their symptoms. Remember that every woman’s experience of menopause is different. There is no one-size-fits-all description so don’t assume that you know what they are experiencing. You can, however, let them know that you’re there to listen and to help if needed, making them feel supported
Women dealing with symptoms of menopause or perimenopause may not feel like doing their usual activities. Symptoms like hot flushes and problems with memory can lead to a loss of self-esteem and embarrassment, especially when they occur in a public place or in the workplace. Encourage them to continue with their activities and where appropriate, offer to go along to support them
consider their relationship needs:
Women going through menopause may experience a loss of sexual desire due to hormone changes. They may find they have no interest in sex which can be upsetting for them and/or their partner. They may also experience physical symptoms such as vaginal dryness or night sweats which may make penetrative sex uncomfortable. You can support your partner by asking about their experience and their needs so you can help them to ease their symptoms and seek the appropriate treatment if necessary. Remember there are many other ways to show love and demonstrate intimacy, so make time to talk to one another about different ways to feel close to each other
help manage their symptoms:
Some of the symptoms of menopause can be eased by leading an active, healthy lifestyle. You can assist a loved one by encouraging them to go for a walk or a swim, inviting them to join classes such as yoga or Pilates, and generally being more active. It is also helpful to cut down on alcohol consumption and quit smoking. For many people, these are connected with social activities so you might find it useful to suggest different ways of socialising. For example, if you usually meet in a pub or a restaurant, suggest joining a cookery class or taking up a new hobby together