The MATE Survey : Men's Perceptions and Attitudes Towards Menopause and Their Role in Partners' Menopausal Transition

Sharon J. Parish, MD; Stephanie S. Faubion, MD; Marc Weinberg; Brian Bernick, MD; Sebastian Mirkin, MD

Disclosures

Menopause. 2019;26(10):1110-1116. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Abstract

Objective: The perceptions and attitudes of menopause shared by men are largely unknown. This analysis characterized men's awareness and their understanding of their partner's menopausal transition.

Methods: A 35-question, online survey was used to assess men's perceptions and attitudes toward menopause. Men were recruited from an online research marketplace and were eligible to participate if their female partners (45-64 years old) experienced ≥1 of the following symptoms: hot flashes, night sweats, sleepless nights, difficulty sleeping, low libido, mood swings, pain during sex, or vaginal dryness. Couples either lived together full time, or, if living separately, resided together regularly two or more times a week.

Results: Of the 1,356 surveys sent to eligible men, 450 (33%) were completed. Most men were between 50 and 69 years (80%), married and not separated (90%), and lived with their partner full time (97%). Men were aware of the symptoms regularly experienced by their partner, with difficulty sleeping (54%) and lack of energy (49%) being frequently identified; these symptoms were attributed to menopause (26%) and/or aging (22%). Of those who were affected by symptoms (63%), most men reported they negatively impacted them (77%), their partners (70%), and relationships (56%). Men engaged in discussions with their partners regarding menopausal symptoms (72%) and believed they were somewhat/very influential (75%) in their partner's decision to seek treatment or make lifestyle adjustments.

Conclusions: Overall, men are aware of their partner's menopausal transition and may influence decisions relating to symptom management. Educational interventions would further benefit men's awareness of menopause and available treatment options.

Introduction

Due to the increasing longevity of women in the United States, women may live up to 40% of their lifespan after menopause.[1] Menopausal women have marked declines in estrogen levels and increases in follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, and often have bothersome symptoms, such as vasomotor symptoms and dyspareunia due to vulvar vaginal atrophy (VVA).[2] Up to 75% of women are likely to be symptomatic during menopause.[3–6]

Traditionally, surveys have targeted menopausal women to assess their perceptions and attitudes regarding menopause, menopausal symptoms, and available treatment options.[1,7–12] To date, very few surveys have targeted women's male partners to assess their understanding of menopause, and they have been limited in scope.[12–14] The Clarifying Vaginal Atrophy's Impact on Sex and Relationships (CLOSER) online survey mainly explored the impact of VVA on sex, relationships, and intimacy for 1,000 couples, and reported that most men believed vaginal discomfort caused their partners to avoid intimacy, experience loss of libido, and find sex painful.[12] A small Turkish survey of 33 married men reported that they knew very little about menopause and treatment options.[13] Finally, another small Turkish study (n = 60) showed that men had positive attitudes toward menopause.[14] Therefore, the awareness and attitudes of menopause shared by men are still largely unknown; yet, male partners may influence how women cope with and manage their menopausal symptoms.

The Men's perception and Attitudes Toward mEnopause (MATE) survey was designed to gauge men's awareness of menopausal symptoms and understanding of menopause and its treatment options, evaluate the impact of menopausal symptoms on men, and determine the influence of men on their partner's menopausal symptom management.

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