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How to talk to your children about the menopause

Tips on talking menopause with teenagers and younger children

Your perimenopause and menopause can be a time of significant upheaval, with symptoms which can be challenging in range and severity.

While you are going through your menopause journey, the chances are that it won’t only affect you – your loved ones, including your children, are likely to notice changes.

You may be feeling particularly tired, anxious or irritable, and patience at home can be worn thin.

So how much should you share with your children about what you are experiencing as your hormone levels change, and how do you go about it?

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Should I tell my children about my menopause?

Unless they are very young, then talking to your children about your perimenopause and menopause experience is generally a good approach, says balance founder Dr Louise Newson, a GP and menopause specialist.

This information will need to be tailored to their age, as this will greatly influence how much they can understand.

‘It is important that we all talk about it more, and this is definitely starting to happen with periods, the menopause and the perimenopause,’ says Dr Louise

‘It is brilliant that we are able to be more open about these issues and this makes it more likely we can get the support and understanding we need. Our children need to be part of these conversations. It is about breaking that taboo.’

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Age-appropriate menopause conversations

Ensuring that children know the correct names of their body parts, including their intimate areas, can help with conversations around what we experience at different stages of our lives, Dr Louise says.

‘You may not want to talk about your menopause if your children are too young to understand. But making sure they have the vocabulary is a start, so that when they have the understanding, you can start talking about your menopause,’ she says.

‘Start very, very small, with just little bits of information, so that they can understand properly and clearly. Always be honest in what you tell them.’

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When you are having conversations around puberty, this can be a good time to mention what happens at the other end for women.

‘Touch on what happens when these hormones start to decline, and that this is happening for you’ says Dr Louise.

Understanding the power of hormones

Discussing the power of our hormones and being respectful of their impact throughout our lives is a good approach, says Dr Louise.

‘Try and improve understanding of our hormones, and the impact of their fluctuations,’ she adds. ‘Talk about how changes throughout a woman’s life can bring different symptoms, can lead to postnatal depression, premenstrual syndrome and, later, the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause.

‘Improving our and our children’s knowledge around the changes in our bodies is an empowering move. It can help them understand their own experiences and changes, and the importance of seeking care if needed now and throughout their lives.’

Highlight that positive solutions are out there

While your menopause experience is unique, for many women it can bring significant challenges.

About 80% of women experience some symptoms as their estrogen levels drop, typically lasting about four years after their last period, but can continue for much longer [1].

These changes can affect most areas of your life, including work and home, so sharing this with your children can help them understand what you are going through and why you may be different.

For women struggling with symptoms, the first line treatment is HRT, so talk to a healthcare professional to discuss your options. You can also download the balance menopause support app to track the frequency and severity of symptoms to produce a report to take along to your appointment.

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Dr Louise says: ‘Always be positive and be clear that there are solutions out there, like HRT and hormonal approaches to heavy periods and contraception.

‘Encourage your children to talk to a healthcare professional if they have any hormonal difficulties and demonstrate to them that you do. This shows the importance of getting up-to-date and individualised advice.’

When puberty and menopause collide

In some households, children will be going through puberty as their mother experiences menopause, leading to a potentially volatile combination of hormonal changes.

Here openness is particularly important and beneficial, Dr Louise says.

A 2022 poll by balance found a link between menopause and the rates of relationship breakdown, divorce and domestic abuse.

‘This can be a fraught time for a family,’ she says.

‘Understanding why we, or our children, may be particularly irritable or tired is really important. Maintain and protect that respect for each other, even when sleep is poor, we aren’t feeling great, and emotions are running high.’

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  1. NICE (2015), ‘Menopause: diagnosis and management: context’
How to talk to your children about the menopause

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