Resources for helping a cis straight man understand perimenopause?
September 21, 2023 4:58 AM   Subscribe

I am the person who is partnered with this guy. We've been together for more than a decade, but now I am perimenopausing. My periods are longer and more exhausting. My energy levels are low. My mental reserves got punched through with Long Covid. I am not the person he once knew, and he's annoyed with me. On paper, he's not wrong, but in the grand scheme of a lifetime, this is a phase that seems like it will be utterly annoying but temporary.

I've tried to search for resources for men to understand that the time period before "The Menopause" can last from five to ten years or so, that science has barely figured out anything, that I'm as confused as he is but that I'm also feeling like shit while we're confused. Much of what I've found has been inane manosphere stuff. Is there any writing (or hopefully videos? they work for him better) about what perimenopause means that are written for men?

(Other factors: he makes much more money than I do; we don't and have never desired kids; he is on the autism spectrum and wants sciencey sources; I am the artistic/handy one who brings the joy and the care and the emotional labor and the friends and the literal fixing of things; I am ADHD and have barely been able to access meds since last November. We're both 42.)

When I'm okay, we're nicely balanced. I just haven't been okay for a while, and it looks like that might be for a while longer, and I cannot figure out a way to explain it to this dude. Halp?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (17 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Good grief. Why on earth can he not find ways to educate himself on this subject? Nothing in your post explains why you have to spoon-feed this information to him.

Suggested script: "Sweetheart, go look for in-depth information online and offline about perimenopause so that you can understand what I'm going through. If you're lost, a librarian can help you. Please do this ASAP because you're clueless right now, which, though adorable as always, is nevertheless driving me up the wall. xoxo."
posted by MiraK at 5:21 AM on September 21, 2023 [69 favorites]

Anyone entering into a life relationship with someone who will go through menopause knows it's coming. The same way you know that bad knees and possible balding are coming. If not, they're willfully ignorant. I vote for MiraK's script. Mostly because you're already wiped out, but also because you note that you do the emotional labor. And also as you say, there's generally a dearth of solid info out there. Consider this intellectual labor, and right in line with his skill set. No need for you to go on some Quixotic quest to find the right thing that may not exist that allows him to be nice to you.

To answer the actual question, NAMS and Our Bodies Ourselves site and recent edition (2011) are the resources I'd point him to.
posted by cocoagirl at 5:35 AM on September 21, 2023 [14 favorites]

I second NAMS as a resource. If you can, try to get yourself to a gynecologist who specializes in midlife care. Bioidentical hormones can make an enormous difference in your quality of life. They do for me.
posted by ruddlehead at 5:47 AM on September 21, 2023 [5 favorites]

The Annals of Internal Medicine did a special issue on perimenopause a few years ago that might pass the science bar for him. But I will mention that a lot of times people like this use science as a weapon against others ("but scientists say you should feel better by now") and not as a tool for learning.

If he's not familiar with Google scholar, he can try going to and looking up terms like perimenopause, premenopause, and climacteric. Or he can try the same, adding some advanced filters if he likes, on PubMed.
posted by twelve cent archie at 5:59 AM on September 21, 2023 [6 favorites]

Please allow me to introduce you to Dr. Jen Gunter and her book The Menopause Manifesto.

She does not suffer fools gladly, and I would suggest you don’t either. What you’re describing is not a lack of information but of empathy. Even if you were the only woman on the planet to experience things (you are so not), as your partner he should believe you and your lived experience over the manosphere.

Also personally - the Mirena IUD changed my life, perimenopause-wise. I was having heavy frequent periods that were wiping me out. It’s worth investigating treatment options.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:13 AM on September 21, 2023 [61 favorites]

+1 The Menopause Manifesto. It is both comprehensive on medically what is happening, and spares no punches when it comes to partners/doctors/etc who dismiss women's symptoms.
posted by jessica fletcher did it at 6:17 AM on September 21, 2023 [6 favorites]

What Fresh Hell Is This?, by the nonbinary author, activist and educator Heather Corinna*, has all the science about perimenopause (it's thoroughly researched) and is straightforward AF.

* (They founded the sex education website Scarleteen.)
posted by virago at 6:19 AM on September 21, 2023 [8 favorites]

Thirding Jen Gunter. She doesn't don kid gloves when discussing perimenopause/menopause. Tell your partner to snag a copy and read it. Don't do any homework for him other than that. He should be asking how to support you in a period of life where emotions/physical symptoms can be difficult.

Also, the Mirena IUD was a gamechanger for me too as a person who suffered very painful heavy periods.
posted by Kitteh at 7:23 AM on September 21, 2023 [2 favorites]

I am here also to endorse and +1 both Dr Gunter and the Mirena. Because of the Mirena I went from frequent heavy clotted bleeding to zero bleeding and felt SO MUCH better
posted by anastasiav at 8:46 AM on September 21, 2023 [1 favorite]

Do you have a gynecologist you trust? Consider bringing your partner with you to your next appointment (inform the doctor that you will bring him beforehand). When i was still with my ex, this was the only way to make clear to him that i was not trying to be difficult or exaggerating.
posted by 15L06 at 8:55 AM on September 21, 2023

Info: can you explain why you are specifically looking for resources "written for men" rather than straight up scientific resources? Knowing that might improve the answers you receive.
posted by metasarah at 10:39 AM on September 21, 2023 [3 favorites]

This is a message for your partner. I'm not sure if you can share it with him, but it's what I'd say to a friend.

I'm an autistic man in my forties. My wife will be going through the perimenopause soon.

I don't know what it's like to suffer the hot flashes and hormonal loop the loops and the crucifying periods and it's unlikely I ever will. Neither will you. But I love my wife and I will support her however I can, like I'm sure you want to support your partner. There was nothing wrong with not knowing anything about the menopause previously but now it is here you have a responsibility to learn about it, like every decent man who has a female partner needs to learn about it.

The menopause is a biological process like puberty. It can't be ignored, it has real, significant symptoms, and it will last somewhere between 5 and 10 years on average. It can be hell for some women, if not most women.

The perimenopause is the start of that process and the symptoms are not "easier" just because the menopause isn't in full swing yet. Here is a simple explanation from the British National Health Service of what is happening to your partner, including a list of common symptoms.

Read whatever she gives you to read, trust her when she tells you what she's going through, and don't be one of those douchebags who thinks women are making this stuff up.

Be the man she thinks you are and support her while she's going through this, like you'd support her in any other situation. Not because a stranger on the internet has told you to, but because you're a good man who loves and supports his partner, and it's the right thing to do.
posted by underclocked at 11:07 AM on September 21, 2023 [26 favorites]

As you know, in the big picture, many cis women and people with uteruses don't understand menopause and perimenopause either! It's complicated and frustrating, isn't it? I looked around for information directed at men a few years ago but couldn't find much good, but I think things directed at a general audience might be a good starting point. If he wants solid scientific resources, I'm not sure NY Times writing will work, but I have noticed an extraordinary amount of menopause discussion in mainstream sources over the past few years, perhaps because Gen X women are tackling this different and more openly than previously generations. Anyway, a few general audience-type pieces:
Women Have Been Mislead about Menopause - this talks about menopause and why we are in such a state of not knowing all that much about our bodies
Five Things to Know about Menopause and Hormone Therapy

Next, how about some podcasts? There's a longevity doctor, Peter Attia, who podcasts for a general audience but seems beloved by the bros and dudes, you know? He's had some recent podcast episodes about menopause that cover a lot of ground, including the lack of extensive research and a real misunderstanding of the results of the Women's Health Initiative that set us back for decades.
Peter Attia (MD) with Avrum Bluming (MD) and Carol Tavris (PhD)
Peter Attia with JoAnn Manson (MD)

Also, gently, are you getting everything you need from a solid healthcare provider? Hormone levels checked, blood levels checked, discussions of possible treatments (IUD, HRT, etc)? I'm a bit worried about you because 42 is on the younger side and I hope you aren't missing possible other causes and explanations and treatments for some of what you are dealing with.

I'm also worried because it seems like you are waiting to be "okay" again so your relationship can improve, but maybe your partner's lack of support is part of the reason why you aren't feeling so okay. There seems to be a power imbalance in the relationship (you mentioned his greater income for a reason), and that can be truly exhausting. Good luck.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:03 PM on September 21, 2023 [9 favorites]

underclocked's message is incredibly generous, and I'll add on that menopause is - for most of us - actually pretty delightful in almost every way, though many of those ways involve not putting up with bullshit anymore, and being tired and okay with it.

Perimenopause almost killed me, it was a years-long mental health and other health crisis, not eased in any way by the previous administration and the start of a pandemic. My peers struggled with the same. Some of my friends had some pretty serious physical health issues - a whole lot of terrifying cancer scares (and not scares, unfortunately), autoimmune flares, the unevenly declining estrogen fucks up your connective tissue, so you're dealing with fluctuating hypermobility and declining bone density. I hyperextended my knee and broke my leg, a friend of mine dislocated a shoulder reaching to a high shelf, and had to have her husband wipe for her for months, so maybe consider how "annoyed" one could actually be.

To the To Be Read pile, I'd suggest Come As You Are, Burnout by the same author and her sister, and Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life from the Landmark Study of Adult Development. Because you don't get through perimenopause and turn 20 again, and he's going to get old soon too. The other books are not so much about menopause, but about how bodies work, only written by women so nobody forgot to leave them entirely out of the science.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:26 PM on September 21, 2023 [4 favorites]

I don't have resources to add but I will say that I seem to also be in perimenopause and it is wreaking havoc on my ADHD symptoms -- I am medicated but I might as well not be. So if that's an aspect of your experience, it might be worth seeing if you can find a provider who can help navigate that aspect. (as others have mentioned, I am considering going back on hormonal birth control after years, and I do not relish this idea! But also, I cannot. function)
posted by librarina at 2:19 PM on September 21, 2023 [2 favorites]

Chatelaine's current issue is the magazine's menopause issue. It might be worth a look.
posted by sardonyx at 2:36 PM on September 21, 2023 [1 favorite]

unevenly declining estrogen fucks up your connective tissue, so you're dealing with fluctuating hypermobility

Oh my god, you just explained why my knees suddenly want to hyperextend. I've been trying to educate myself about this exciting new life phase and hadn't come across this symptom.

Dr. Gunter is amazing.
posted by Mavri at 4:00 PM on September 22, 2023 [1 favorite]

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