How you can provide support to someone during menopause


Do you want to know how to support someone going through menopause? We spoke to Kathy Abernethy from Vitality partner Peppy about supporting your colleagues, friends and partners

Supporting someone during menopause mother and daughter on bed

Not long ago, menopause was a topic of conversation many people wouldn’t dream of bringing up with friends, let alone at work. 

But times are changing. Women are living longer, working longer and speaking up about subjects that were historically brushed under the carpet.

“Of all the myths about menopause – and there are so many – the one that I come back to time and time again is that menopause is just a women’s issue,” says Kathy Abernethy, a menopause specialist with over 30 years working in menopause clinics and Director of Menopause Services at digital healthcare app, Peppy. 

It’s true that menopause will affect 100% of women, but it will also impact those around them. This includes friends, family, partners, colleagues and managers. “I believe menopause will touch all of us at some point in our lives,” says Abernethy.

Whether you have personal experience of going through menopause or not a clue what menopause actually means, it’s vital you know how to support those around you as they go through one of life’s most natural, but most under-supported, journeys. 

Here are some tips from an expert that might help. 

First and foremost, educate yourself

You don’t need to have a degree in biology to talk confidently about menopause (although we’re pleased that, in 2020, menopause entered the national curriculum for the first time), but these facts will help. 

  • ‘Menopause’ refers to the last ever period you have
  • The average age of menopause is 51, but it usually happens between the ages of 45-55
  • For one in 100 women, menopause will start under the age of 40
  • And for one in 1,000 women, menopause will start under the age of 30
  • ‘Perimenopause’ is the time around menopause, when the body is preparing for menopause and the first year afterwards – it can last months or even years
  • Nearly three quarters of people experiencing menopause will have symptoms
  • Symptoms can include hot flushes, sweats, tiredness, poor memory, concentration problems, vaginal dryness and bladder issues, plus symptoms of anxiety, low mood and insomnia.

Support your colleagues

Know the signs

Make yourself aware of the symptoms that your colleagues who are going through menopause are experiencing. Your awareness will help you foster a culture of openness. 

Stay flexible

Changing someone’s experience of menopause at work could be as simple as moving their place of work (whether that’s to the chilled aisle of a supermarket or to a desk near the loo). Be open-minded and try to work together to find the best solution.

Be kind

Try to be kind and considerate towards your colleagues if you know they’re going through menopause, or even if you suspect. Let them know that your door is always open to talk.

Know the support available

As an employee and particularly as a manager, it’s so important that you understand the pathway of support available in your organisation.

Do you offer a menopause cafe? Do you have a menopause policy? Are there any upcoming events you can suggest to your team members? 

If you don’t feel your workplace is doing enough, speak to your HR, Benefits or Wellbeing team. 

And remember, if your colleague is a member of Vitality, they could have access to expert-led menopause support via the Peppy app, at absolutely no extra cost to your organisation or them. 

How to support friends and family

Ask them

Sometimes, it’s as simple as just asking. If you’re not sure how to start the conversation, try asking “What can I do to help?” or “How can I make this easier?”.

Don’t make fun

With friends and family, it can be tempting to make their hot flushes the butt of a joke. Try not to – a lot of people won’t see their menopause symptoms as a laughing matter. 

Stay in touch

Particularly now, we all need to stay connected. Drop them a text, a call or an email – about anything, not just menopause! Keep lines of communication open, and they’ll be more likely to come to you if they’re struggling. 

How to support partners

Be there for them

Sit with your partner, let them tell you how they’re feeling and discuss their treatment options together. Help them make the choice that’s right for them.

Don’t take things personally

Menopause is a journey of highs and lows. If they need to vent, let them vent! But remember, this time will pass. 

Build on your strengths

Focus on your strengths as a couple and make time for the activities that make you happiest together.

Menopause is a time of huge change, but you can also choose to see it as the start of an exciting chapter of your life together. 

Vitality offers menopause support at no extra cost with our health insurance plans. 

Find out if you're a qualifying member by logging into Member Zone to see if you can use the Peppy service.

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