Most women would rather talk to other women about menopause. Many women prefer to talk to a female doctor about their reproductive health, and find it easier to discuss with their female friends. Many men find the subject awkward, or seem uninterested. Because of this, thousands of women go through menopause without getting support from their male partners. But it doesn't have to be that way; here are five reasons you should talk to your partner about menopause.

Menopause (or more accurately perimenopause) affects both of you. Although many women have mild symptoms, most will experience some physical changes, whether that's a disrupted sleep pattern, night sweats or hot flashes. Only you will know how this feels, but that doesn't mean it won't affect your partner. If he's ill or under the weather, it makes a difference to you too. Menopause isn't an illness, but the physical symptoms you experience will influence your relationship. And if being menopausal makes you more tired and irritable, it's definitely going to change things.

Menopause affects your sex life. Some women experience loss of libido due to hormonal changes, while others may be just as interested in sex but find that vaginal dryness makes it painful. Add in disturbed sleep and headaches, and you have an issue that will strain your relationship if you don't address it. Explain to your partner how you're feeling. Let him know what works in bed and what doesn't. When you first had sex with him, you needed to let him know what felt good and what was not so great. The same thing needs to happen now.

Stress can make menopausal symptoms worse. For many women, menopause comes when they're getting near to the top of their career ladder, coping with teenage children or worrying about elderly parents. Norma Goldman, founder and director of The Menopause Exchange ( explains, "For many women going through menopause, having a supportive partner is essential. They may feel more confident about managing their symptoms if they can talk to their partner." But if you want support, you need to explain what's happening and how you feel. Don't assume that your partner knows what you're going through - lots of men only have a sketchy knowledge of what menopause involves.

Most men want to help, but don't know how. It's a cliché that men want to find a practical solution rather than talk about problems, but it will help both of you if he understands what's going on and what he can do (even if that's just to be a bit more patient). There's no accurate way of predicting how long menopause will last; even if you manage it with HRT there's no way to tell how long it will go on for. Lots of men want to find instant solutions; talking to him will help him understand that this is a process that needs to take time.

Men have issues about attractiveness and aging too, even if they don't talk about them much. If you're not talking to him about the physical and emotional symptoms you're experiencing - especially if they're affecting your sex life - he might assume that he's the problem. If your partner is the same age as you, he's dealing with his own issues about no longer being in peak physical condition. It's all too easy for a situation to develop in which, because your relationship has changed, he thinks that you're no longer in love with him. The best way to prevent this is to keep on communicating.

Menopause only happens to women, but it affects their partners too. Physical and emotional symptoms can strain a relationship, especially if they cause changes to your sex life. Men might prefer to find a practical solution rather than talk about feelings, but that doesn't mean that they're not being affected emotionally by the changes that happen during menopause. Talking to your partner can help him to support you, and that will make things better for you both.