Supporting someone through the menopause
The menopause can be associated with many physical and emotional changes for women, and this can make it a challenging and complicated time.
If you know someone who might be going through menopause or perimenopause, it's useful for you to find out more about how you can support them. Some women will drop out of the workforce if not supported, adapting working polices, such as providing access to flexible working, can help women remain in the workplace.
Learn more about menopause
Getting yourself and others informed is a really important step. It'll give you an idea of what your partner, family member, friend or colleague might be going through.
A good first step would be to learn about all the various symptoms of the menopause, the impact these symptoms may have on your loved one and others as well as the potential treatments and support available.
Listen to them
Communication is key. Ask them about how they feel or what they're going through. It's important to keep in mind that not everyone might want to talk about certain symptoms or feelings. It is also important to remember that everyone’s menopause is different so don’t make assumptions about what they are experiencing. However, letting them know you're there if they need you will make them feel supported.
They might not feel like doing things they normally would, and their self-esteem might be low. Words of encouragement can help make them feel more uplifted and empowered.
Inviting them to engage with a range of people or activities will also provide opportunities to feel good about themselves even when experiencing symptoms.
Help with their symptoms
An active, healthy lifestyle can ease some of the symptoms of menopause. You can encourage them to go for a walk, a swim or try a yoga class to get more active.
Cutting down on alcohol and quitting smoking can help reduce the symptoms of menopause, so changing the ways you spend time together or socialise can really help. For example, cooking a healthy meal together rather than going to the pub.
You can also talk to them about the treatment options they're offered by their GP. They might even appreciate your support or company when they go to the GP if appropriate.
Further information about symptoms of menopause
Sexual wellbeing and intimacy
Women can experience a loss of sexual desire or sex drive (libido) due to hormone changes that take place during menopause. They may find they no longer want to have sex and that can be very upsetting for them and/or their partner. Other symptoms that can affect desire for sex can include:
- vaginal dryness and discomfort that makes penetrative sex uncomfortable or painful
- night sweats that affect sleep and energy for sex
- emotional changes that can make someone feel too stressed or upset for sex
There are treatment options that help ease or manage some of these symptoms. However, if you are supporting your partner who is going through the menopause it's just as important to ask how they are feeling and what they are experiencing so you can provide the type of support they need and want.
There are also a lot of ways to show love and care towards a partner. Regularly talking about different ways to feel close to each other and spending time together more generally is important.
It is still possible to get pregnant when perimenopausal, so it’s important that you continue conversations about contraception should you need it.
Further information about loss of sex drive
Menopause and the workplace
Many women have said that they often find managing symptoms of the menopause in the workplace very challenging. Coping with symptoms in the workplace can be hard, especially as many women find it difficult to talk about menopause at work.
It is important that women feel supported to continue working throughout their menopause.
There are lots of small changes that managers and organisations can make to ensure workplaces are healthy and welcoming places for women going through menopause.
Further information about menopause and the workplace
The menopause is a normal transition for many women. By providing help and support for women who are managing menopause symptoms at work, employers can contribute to a positive workplace environment.
There are lots of things you can do to provide menopause support at work. Providing practical support also helps to show that women are valued members of staff.
It's also important to remember that many women see menopause as a private matter and should not be asked directly about it by those they work with. For this reason, supporting initiatives such as Menopause Cafes or providing ways women can access support beyond their line manager is vital.
Menopausal symptoms can also be protected by employment law. It is important that managers and colleagues feel informed and comfortable about symptoms and impact of menopause.
20 October 2022
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