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How can menopause affect my relationship status?

Patricia Geraghty, NP
Women's Health
Menopause brings physical changes to all women in the stopping of menstrual periods. The presence of additional symptoms such has hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, weight gain, and mood swings varies tremendously. It may be reassuring to know that the most important factor in relationships before and after menopause is not these physical changes, but the history of the relationship itself. If you've been supportive and happy with your partner, you are most likely to continue to be so after menopause.
Boston Women's Health Book Collective
Administration Specialist

Our sexuality may be changing physically at menopause, but whether or not we are distressed about it depends to a considerable extent on the status of our relationships, our health, and our past sexual experiences. We can find ourselves in sexual turmoil, filled with new doubts or new passions. Or we may accept the sexual changes we notice as part of our aging. We may want to change old relationships or end them. We may feel hurled into physical or emotional makeovers by forces either inside or outside us. We may feel more stuck than we have ever felt before. Or we may not feel very different at all. Our sexuality at menopause is affected by all our earlier emotional and physical experiences of sex, including adolescent sexual identity and experimentation; childbearing and child rearing, if we have children; and experiences of sexual abuse or assault. By the time we reach menopause, many of us have experienced several sexual relationships, while some of us have experienced only one and experienced several distinct stages in its growth or stagnation or both, and others none.

Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause

More About this Book

Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause

FROM THE EDITORS OF THE CLASSIC "BIBLE OF WOMEN'S HEALTH," A TRUSTWORTHY, UP-TO-DATE GUIDE TO HELP EVERY WOMAN NAVIGATE THE MENOPAUSE TRANSITION For decades, millions of women have relied on Our...
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)
There are so many factors that can influence the health of a relationship, regardless if you are in menopause or not. But when two people are in a loving relationship that includes open and frank discussion of any changes you may be going through, it can go a long way in paving a positive menopausal experience. Many women find this time freeing because there is no longer a worry about pregnancy (but make sure you are completely in menopause lest you get a surprise). It is possible though that your body will change a bit, and while an understanding partner will not be bothered by this, some are unprepared for these changes. Things can get thorny if a woman has painful intercourse because of vaginal dryness, frequent awakenings from night sweats and hot flashes; or changes in mood and sex drive. So the best advice I can give is to educate partners about all the symptoms and changes you will go through during menopause. And if the going gets rough, get help either with counseling, lifestyle modifications or medical therapies.
Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Menopause (the change of life ending your fertility) can affect your relationship status by making you less interested in sex and physical intimacy. During menopause, you may experience vaginal dryness and irritation that make sex uncomfortable or painful.

The mood swings, feelings of sadness, and emotional ups and downs of menopause can also cause you to lose your desire for sex. Together, these conditions can threaten your relationship.

These changes occur in only some women and even those women may not necessarily experience this whole list of effects. Talk openly to your doctor and your partner about the changes you're experiencing so that you can maintain a healthy relationship. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.