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

Results

Survey Population

Invitations for the survey were sent to 1,356 potentially eligible men, and 450 completed the survey (33.2% response rate). The majority of respondents were between 50 and 69 years old (80%), married (not separated) to their partners (90%), and living together (97%; Table 2). Their female partners were either between 45 and 54 years (50%) or 55 and 64 years old (50%). Most couples had been in a relationship for more than 21 years (61%).

Men's Awareness of Menopause and Related Symptoms

When men were provided with a list of symptoms their female partners could be experiencing (Figure 1A), sleepless nights/difficulty sleeping (54%) was the most commonly identified symptom, followed by tiredness/lack of energy (49%), low libido/less desire for sexual contact (48%), mood swings (47%), and hot flashes (46%). Men attributed their partner's symptoms to menopause (26%; including the change/hormonal changes), getting older (22%), and other medical (11%) and work-related issues (7%; stress/long hours); 24% of men did not know or did not answer the question. When prompted to specifically choose from a list of potential reasons, 55% of men believed menopause accounted for their partner's symptoms. Other common reasons were feeling emotionally down/depressed (40%), being overweight (34%), and other health issues (28%). When asked how they would describe menopause to other men, the most common response described the irrational or emotional mood of their partners (22%). Men also used the terms hormonal change (21%) or physical/biological/chemical changes (10%), or noted the inability to bear children (13%), lack of menstrual cycles (12%), and change in sex drive (7%). When asked what types of symptoms women typically experience when going through menopause (Figure 1B), the most common symptoms cited were hot flashes/sweating (55%) and mood swings (44%), followed by low libido (18%), irritability (14%), and depression/sadness (13%), weight gain/bloating (10%), night sweats (10%), low energy (8%), and trouble sleeping (7%).

Figure 1.

Men's knowledge of menopausal symptoms. (A) Men chose from a list and were asked what symptoms are regularly experienced by your partner; (B) men answered the open-ended question: what do you think women typically experienced when going through menopause; multiple responses were allowed for both questions (N = 450).

Impact of Menopausal Symptoms on men, Partners, and Relationship

Menopausal symptoms impacted men, with 63% (284/450) of survey respondents reporting that their partner's symptoms had personally affected them. Specifically, men affected by menopausal symptoms noted that the symptoms put an emotional strain on their relationships (34%; arguments, unappreciated, tension, etc), reduced the frequency of sex/intimacy (33%), and contributed to trouble sleeping (10%). Some men (11%) noted that it was upsetting or frustrating to see their partners going through this transition. Most men affected by menopausal symptoms believed the symptoms had a very or somewhat negative impact on them (77%), their relationships (56%), or their partners (70%). Approximately 10% of men thought the symptoms had a positive influence on them, their relationships, and partners.

The majority of respondents believed that menopausal symptoms had a great or negative impact on their partners (Table 3), including an impact on love making (65%), mood swings (63%), being romantic (58%), patience (58%), and activity level (54%). Most men (74%) thought that their partners were coping fairly to very well with their symptoms, and 22% responded that their partners were not coping too well; only 4% responded "not well at all."

Interactions With Partner Regarding Menopause and Related Symptoms

Nearly half of men surveyed (48%) thought that their partners were going through menopause, with 84% indicating their partners had told them this directly. The remainder either indicated that their partners were not going through menopause (31%) or that they were unsure (22%). Most men (72%) had talked with their partners about the symptoms they were experiencing; and of those who had discussed their symptoms, 72% of the men's partners had initiated the conversation. Tones of the conversations were mostly relaxed (49%), engaged (40%), and polite (32%), but some were also stressful/uptight (19%), frustrated (21%), and uneasy (15%); 20% were relieved (data not all shown).

Of 357 men who answered whether they had taken additional actions in response to their partners' symptoms, 31% reported trying to be more patient/supportive/compassionate toward their partners, 11% listed avoidance actions like giving their partners space or staying out of their way, 10% performed online research regarding menopause and treatment options, 8% asked how they could help their partners to make them feel better, and 8% recommended that their partners seek medical attention.

Men's Awareness of Treatment Options for Menopause

Less than half of men surveyed (46%) were aware that there are treatment options for menopausal symptoms. The men cited options (Figure 2) that included hormones/hormone therapy (35%), medications/pills (31%), herbal/natural supplements/remedies (5%), and dietary supplements/vitamins (5%). Of those aware of treatment, 41% said they had suggested these treatment options to their partners. In general, 65% indicated they would feel comfortable discussing treatment options with their partners, whereas 18% did not think they would be comfortable, and 16% were unsure.

Figure 2.

Men's knowledge of menopausal treatment options. Men answered the open-ended question: what types of treatment options are you aware of (n = 209).

Less than a third of men (28%; n = 126) reported that their partners were currently using some type of treatment or had made and/or added lifestyle changes to help alleviate the symptoms. Among those women who sought treatment, men reported that the majority (86%) had consulted with medical or health/wellness professionals (gynecologists/obstetrics-gynecologists [65%], general practitioners/internal medicine professionals [42%], nurse practitioners/physician assistants [24%], other health and wellness professionals [16%], and dieticians [8%]) for help with their symptoms. In addition to seeking medical attention, men noted that their partners changed to a healthier diet (46%), began an exercise regimen (39%), and used hormone/estrogen therapy (37%) to alleviate their symptoms (Figure 3). Most men (75%) believed they were somewhat or very influential in getting their partners to seek treatment or begin lifestyle changes to address menopausal symptoms; only 6% thought they had no influence at all.

Figure 3.

Men's knowledge of partner's actions to alleviate symptoms. Men answered the open-ended question: what types of action is your partner doing to alleviate her symptoms (n = 126). A/C, air conditioning; OTC, over the counter.

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