Objective: The aim of this study was to describe the partners’ perceptions, understanding, and personal experiences of early menopause and menopausal therapy in women with breast cancer.
Methods: A questionnaire study was completed by 50 partners of women with diagnoses of breast cancer, recruited via outpatient clinics and the community. Descriptive statistics and χ2 tests were applied.
Results: Most (68%) of the partners perceived hot flushes as the meaning of menopause. Most (60%) partners perceived that loss of sexuality was the key problem/fears about being menopausal. Partners perceived that exercise (72%) and reducing stress (64%) were most effective in alleviating symptoms of menopause. Most partners reported that they did not understand the risks/benefits of hormone therapy (50%), bioidentical hormones (90%), and herbal therapies (84%). The general practitioner was considered the best source of information on menopause (68%). Partners expected menopause to affect a women’s everyday life and relationships with family and partner and, particularly, to cause intermittent stress on the relationship (66%) and to decrease libido or sexual interest (64%). Forty-four percent of partners reported that there was some difficulty in communication/discussion about menopause with family and partners.
Conclusions: This pilot study highlights (1) the lack of understanding of menopause and menopausal therapies that partners of women with breast cancer have, (2) the personal experience of having a female partner with breast cancer, and (3) the partners’ attitudes and responses toward menopause in women with breast cancer.