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

Discussion

In this study, we have characterized men's knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions of menopause. Our findings demonstrate that men were aware of their partners' symptoms, but did not consistently relate the symptoms to menopause. Just over half of men knew that treatments were available for menopausal symptoms, but their knowledge of specific treatment options was limited. Men realized the significant impact of menopausal symptoms on themselves, their partners, and their relationships, and understood their influence on their partners' menopausal symptom management. This is one of the first large surveys exclusively interviewing women's male partners with regard to their understanding of menopause.[12–16]

This may represent a unique opportunity to provide important health information about menopause to men, so that they can better support their partners in the management of their menopausal symptoms. Educational interventions would further benefit men's awareness of menopause and available treatment options as suggested by other authors.[12,13,15] In a recent study reported by Yoshany et al,[15] men's knowledge of menopausal health (and also their female partners' marital satisfaction scores) significantly increased among those who participated in an educational program compared with men who did not participate in the program (P < 0.001). This further underscores the value of educational training for men to offer the best support to their partners during this transition period. This may represent a unique opportunity to provide important health information about menopause to men, so that they can better support their partners in the management of their menopausal symptoms. Educational interventions would further benefit men's awareness of menopause and available treatment options as suggested by other authors.[12,13,15] In a recent study reported by Yoshany et al,[15] men's knowledge of menopausal health (and also their female partners' marital satisfaction scores) significantly increased among those who participated in an educational program compared with men who did not participate in the program (P < 0.001). This further underscores the value of educational training for men to offer the best support to their partners during this transition period.

Overall, our survey findings corroborate previous reports that surveyed men about their perceptions regarding menopause and its associated symptoms. For instance, in the CLOSER survey, 39% of men reported a worse-than-expected impact of menopause on their intimate relationships.[12] The overall low uptake or use of certain therapies reported in the MATE survey may be due to lack of awareness of all available therapies as suggested by the responses of North American women in the CLOSER survey.[12] Another survey confirmed that men were not generally aware of treatment modalities for menopause and believed such therapies were related to conceiving children and sustaining the woman's menstrual cycle.[13] Unlike other studies, the current analysis did not focus on any particular menopausal symptom, for example, hot flashes or vaginal discomfort,[12] but rather assessed the impact of menopausal symptoms in totality on men and their partners, which may provide a more realistic perspective from men who may have had no prior experience with menopause before taking the survey.

As with other online surveys, this descriptive analysis was limited by aspects of the study design and administration. MATE survey recruitment was restricted to registered Cint members and thus was limited to men who had internet access. In addition, the MATE survey was designed to assess men's perceptions about their partners' menopause transition; female partners were not interviewed, thus, men's responses regarding their partners could not be confirmed or validated. Furthermore, men's biases toward treatment options (eg, alternative therapies, medications/hormones, exercise attitudes, behaviors) were unknown and may have affected their perceptions and suggestions made to their partners. Because limited demographic information was collected (eg, race, ethnicity, occupation data not collected) from the participants, these data may not be generalizable to all populations. Also, study participants received a small rewards incentive for completing the survey, which may have had an impact on how they answered the questions. Finally, there is a potential for recall bias due to the self-reported nature of the questionnaire. While a response rate of 33% appears low, the rate is similar or higher than other published online surveys, which have response rates ranging between 14% and 58%.[7,17,18] Despite these limitations, this analysis is noted for its larger sample size compared with previous reports[12–16] and for its ability to capture men's perceptions in key areas in which information was lacking: awareness and management of symptoms, understanding of menopause, impact of menopausal symptoms, and treatment awareness, and influence on menopausal symptom management.

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