what your partner needs to know about perimenopause

What Your Partner Needs to Know about Perimenopause

Navigating perimenopause – the transition to menopause – is pretty freaking complicated. There’s so many changes happening in the female body that so many women feel lost and confused. It’s tough to understand everything that’s going on. Now imagine how your partner feels! If they’re not going through these changes, they’re even more baffled by your chaotic moods, slumps in energy, lack of sleep, brain fog and physical changes. This lack of understanding can cause all kinds of frustration, fights and even lead to divorce. But here at This Is Perimenopause, we know that knowledge is power. So we’re here to help – both you and your partner. And we know this conversation can be tough, so why not start it by sending them this blog… it’s breaking down exactly what your partner needs to know about perimenopause.  Let’s jump in…

What is Perimenopause

Perimenopause is a natural phase that women go through before reaching menopause. Unfortunately, it’s a bit like a whispered secret among women. For oh-so-many reasons, women haven’t historically talked about perimenopause, so when it strikes. they feel lost, lonely and confused.

During perimenopause, women’s bodies are experiencing wild fluctuations in their hormone levels. When we talk perimenopause, we’re mainly focused on the estrogen and progesterone levels, but really it impacts all of the hormones in the body. As women enter perimenopause, many will notice a change in their menstrual cycles, moods, and sleep patterns. Some may experience hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety and even depression. In fact, there are 30+ recognized symptoms of perimenopause. And as women’s health research continues, it’s likely that this list will grow.

For some women these symptoms come on slow and subtly. And for others, it hits them like a Mac truck.  Each woman’s experience is as unique as a fingerprint.

If you want to get into the science of perimenopause, here are some really great resources:

Otherwise, let’s jump right into the good stuff.

Here’s what your partner needs to know about perimenopause:

1. It a long road and she can’t just grin and bear it

Menopause isn’t just a phase that women breeze through. And definitely not one they should suffer through. Instead, it’s a journey marked by years of fluctuating periods, disrupted sleep, anxiety, and confusing mood swings. These symptoms can be really intense and women need support, care and possibly therapy or medical intervention to get through these long years. Yes – long. Perimenopause can last 5 to 10 years. And even once they’ve reached menopause, many women continue to be symptomatic. There are some things that can help. If women feel overwhelmed by their symptoms, they should talk with their health care professional about lifestyle changes, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), or even medicinal options like Hormone Replace Therapy (HRT). It’s really important that women understand the risks and benefits of the protocol they decide to try.

2. Her mood is totally out of her control

This isn’t an excuse for bad behaviour. I speak from a whole lot of experience. During perimenopause, a woman’s mood is almost completely out of her control. Often they’re actually aware – somewhere in the back of their minds – that they are overreacting and that this rage/ sadness / anxiety is a tad extreme. Even still, there’s often very little they can do to control it. And for your safety, please never, ever, EVER suggest that the woman in your life is overreacting during one of the outburst. That’s not helping anyone and is going to cause so many more problems.  Very likely, they’re already feeling ashamed and embarrassed about the outburst, even as it’s happening. Instead, please give them space. Don’t take it personally. And once everyone has calmed down, offer them a hug.

3. The physical changes might blow her confidence

The physical symptoms that come with perimenopause are tough and frustrating and difficult to understand and accept. Particularly the weight gain. Many perimenopausal women find themselves carrying extra pounds in unfamiliar places. And try as they might, nothing will take them away. The confident, fun-loving woman you once knew seems to have vanished. If you can see this change, they’re definitely struggling with it more than you can imagine. During perimenopause, many women have a really hard time feeling confident, let alone desirable. Which brings me to the next thing you need to know…

4. Sex drive? What’s that?

During perimenopause and menopause, loss of libido is a common symptom experienced by approximately 50% of women. The decline in estrogen and testosterone levels can lead to changes in a woman’s sexual desire and physical response to arousal. Many women may notice a decrease in sensitivity to touch and stroking, resulting in reduced interest in sexual activity. This decline in libido may coincide with symptoms like vaginal dryness and discomfort (or even pain) during sex, which further impacts their sex drive. Be patient. Please don’t take it personally. And if she’s ok with it, maybe buy a little lube.

5. She’s completely exhausted!

Sleep disturbances, difficulty falling asleep and even insomnia are extremely common in perimenopause. For many women, no matter how exhausted they feel throughout the day, as soon as their head touches the pillow, they find themselves wide awake, ruminating about their day and spiralling through tomorrow’s to-do list. If they do manage to drift off, sleeping through the night is a rare luxury. Between night sweats, partner’s snoring and pee breaks, many women are awaken several times a night.  As a result, it’s quite common for women to wake up already feeling exhausted. And as you know, lack of sleep often equals irrational and impulsive behaviour, brain fog, difficulty concentrating, anxiety and moods swings. Hey, those symptoms sound familiar! You’re right. These sleepless nights only exacerbate their perimenopause symptoms.

6. She feels alone and completely overwhelmed

Although this isn’t true for every woman, many perimenopausal women admit to feeling completely overwhelmed by their symptoms, their responsibilities, their life. Many women struggle to complete even the most basic tasks. They lack motivation, apathy, and energy. Some days, just getting out of bed is a feat in itself.

And for a long time people weren’t talking about perimenopause or menopause, so it was also a really lonely and scary time for many women. Luckily that’s starting to change. But if you know someone between the ages of 35 to 60 who’s not acting like themselves, or who seems to be struggling, they might be in perimenopause or menopause. Talk with them and offer them support. Recommend they talk to their health care provider. And send them our way. We’ve got a vibrant community and a lot of great information to help them understand what’s going on.

perimenopause is lonely

Things to remember:

Perimenopause is complicated. So just in case you’re still confused, please remember that fluctuating hormones impact every single part of a woman’s body, mind and mood:

Physical Changes: when women reach perimenopause it’s not just the reproductive system that’s taking a breather. Women experience shifts in everything from their skin, to their bones, their muscles, and their heart. Many women reflect that they wake up one morning and don’t recognize themselves in the mirror. They’ve gained weight – even though they haven’t changed anything about their diet or exercise. Their skin is looking dull, dry and wrinkly. They are sore and achy.  Maybe they’re suffering from hot flashes or night sweats. They can’t see as well as they used to. The list goes on and on.

Mind: One of the most fascinating (and reassuring) things I learned about perimenopause is that the changing hormones actually affect women’s brain health. I thought I was suffering from early-onset dementia for a while before I did some digging. Then I found out that perimenopause causes brain fog, memory loss and the inability to focus. I have a friend that actually retired from her job early because her brain fog got so bad that she didn’t feel confident at work anymore. This unfortunately, is not that uncommon.

Mood: Another big one that really impacted me (and my poor family) were violent mood swings. One minute I was laughing and having fun, the next crying in a puddle on the kitchen floor, or possibly even worse – raging and screaming and slamming doors. As our estrogen and progesterone ebb and flow, mood swings are unfortunately quite common.

Libido: Many women find that their libido changes during perimenopause. I promise it’s not a personal reflection on their partner. It’s simply that changing hormone levels can make their vaginas dry, itchy and sore, which might makes sex uncomfortable and even painful. Changes in hormones also make women feel less frisky. And many lose their confidence because of the changes in their physical appearance.


The intent of this information is to provide the reader with knowledge to support more efficient and effective communication with their medical providers. This information is not intended as medical advice.