How to support someone going through menopause
Eight in ten women will have noticeable menopause symptoms. Read how you can support the people in your life going through menopause.
Menopause has many possible physical and emotional symptoms, which can make it a complex time for people going through it. Whether you’re a partner, child, friend, or colleague of someone going through menopause – we’ll tell you exactly what you can do to support them.
1. Learn about the menopause
Menopause is a natural phase of life. Yet, until recently, it’s a topic that’s comparatively rarely talked about. Thankfully, this is starting to change with Davina McCall’s popular Sex, Myths, and the Menopause documentary airing earlier this year and campaigns like Menopause Awareness Month taking off.
One of the trickier points about menopause is knowing exactly when it’s happening to someone. Every single one of us is unique, so it makes sense that menopause is too. Usually, menopause starts between 45 and 55 years of age. But if symptoms fall outside of those ranges (especially if it’s much earlier), then it can catch you off guard.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of menopause is a good place to start. And your first step in supporting someone going through menopause may be to notice these symptoms with them — in a supportive way of course.
The symptoms may not always be overtly obvious, though. In our 2021 survey, many of our customers going through menopause experienced brain fog, disturbed sleep, mood changes, weight gain, anxiety, and a loss of sex drive.
Other common symptoms of menopause include :
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Difficulty sleeping
- Reduced sex drive
- Problems with memory and concentration
- Vaginal dryness and pain
- Mood changes such as depression and anxiety
Perimenopause refers to the period around menopause. It’s when the body starts to make the natural transition to menopause. Perimenopause can be especially confusing as some symptoms of menopause may be present (such as changes in mood, energy, or weight fluctuations), but periods may still happen (though, they’re likely to be irregular).
2. Listen to them
This may seem like an obvious one but providing an ear for someone is invaluable. Everyone’s experience of menopause can be completely different, making it very personal and sometimes tough to deal with.
Giving them space to talk about what they’re going through may also give them the confidence to open up about their experience in different areas of their life, whether at home, at work, or with friends.
Some people going through menopause may find it hard to accept their new phase of life, or they simply feel uncomfortable because of one of the symptoms they’re experiencing. No matter what they’re experiencing (good or bad), knowing that you’re there will help.
3. Remind them how much they’re appreciated
Some people going through menopause may feel so out of sorts that they no longer feel like themselves. They may experience changes in their physical appearance or feel exhausted, less confident, or anxious.
So, what can you do? Well, next time they make you laugh (and we’re sure it’ll be soon) – say it! Let them know how much you enjoy their company, draw attention to their achievements, and say when they’re looking great. Remind them that they’re still the same person.
4. Help with their symptoms
So, this will be a bit of learning from points one and two. Menopause symptoms can vary – vastly. Listen to your loved one and find out what they’re experiencing. What can you help with?
If they’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, then you may (currently) have more head space than they do to seek out resources and helpful support groups. Remember that mood swings can come with menopause, so try to be understanding and don’t take the menopause symptoms personally. A lot is happening in their wonderful body right now.
If they’re experiencing night sweats (and you share a room), you could do something as simple as getting a glass of water, a fan, or changing the sheets.
Staying healthy and avoiding excessive weight gain can also help around menopause. A wonderful way to support a friend could be to make a pact to meet up and exercise or start a healthy eating plan together. If you're new to exercise, have a look at our 10 essential tips every new runner or cyclist needs to know.
Nutrition is also incredibly important, and there are a few basics that people going through menopause can benefit from. Registered nutritionist, Emma Bardwell, explains all in her blog: six ways to eat better for menopause.
5. Find out how employers support menopause in the workplace
Employers have a commitment to make sure all staff are supported. Many provide training to managers on how the law relates to menopause and how to support their staff. You can read more about this on the ACAS website – supporting staff through menopause.
However, employers can only offer support if they know someone is going through menopause. If your loved one hasn’t spoken to their employer, you could help them plan to do so.
Being open with an employer about menopause means they can consider reasonable adjustments. That might mean allowing more regular breaks, being lenient on uniform (if it’s causing discomfort), or making allowances to work from home when practical.
Can you get tested for menopause?
Menopause blood tests can help to figure out whether it’s menopause causing symptoms or something else, like a thyroid condition. Getting tested can be especially useful if anyone is experiencing symptoms earlier than expected.
Sometimes it may be worth doing a more comprehensive blood test to investigate symptoms (like our Advanced Well Woman Blood Test) as these can give a view of overall health, from hormones to vital vitamins and minerals.
Other tests that could help investigate symptoms include:
- Menopause Blood Test – measures five key hormones to assess menopausal status.
- Female Hormone Blood Test – measures the levels of female hormones and thyroid hormones, which regulate fertility, mood, and energy.
- Advanced Female Hormone Blood Test – an advanced hormone profile that includes male and female hormones, with a full thyroid function test and thyroid antibodies.
Are there support groups for menopause?
There are several charities and organisations that offer support for people going through menopause in the UK. Here are a few we’ve picked out:
- The Menopause Charity – their mission is to help people understand the mental and physical changes that occur during perimenopause and menopause and supply the tools and treatments needed to manage those.
- The NHS – a GP, nurse, or pharmacist can give advice and help with symptoms of menopause or perimenopause.
- Women’s Health Concern – WHC provides confidential, independent service to advise, inform, and reassure women about their gynaecological, sexual, and post-reproductive health.
- Queer menopause – offers support and information for people who identify as LGBT+.
- NHS. 2021. Menopause - Symptoms. [online] Available at: <https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/symptoms/> [Accessed 18 August 2022]