Menopause is natural for many people assigned female at birth—not just people who identify as women. Treating it as a body process rather than a marker of being a woman can make lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+) people feel respected and comfortable asking questions. It also helps us break away from any notion that there’s a cookie-cutter model of menopause.

If you’re an LGBTQIA+ person going through menopause, you know that menopause conversations, education, and care can get complicated. Yes, it’s different from what heterosexual, cisgender women experience—that is, women who identify with the female sex assigned to them at birth.

Understanding these differences can help everyone get better care and advocate for themselves when they need to. It also helps doctors, therapists, and loved ones offer better support, so you get the help you need while navigating menopause.

What Does Menopause Look Like for LGBTQIA+ People?

For queer and transgender people, menopause has a few more layers than it usually does for cisgender and heterosexual women. Even with similar changes to your body and menopause symptoms in common, your physical, emotional, and relational experiences might look different.

A survey from the Institute on Aging showed that sexual minority women worried less about the impact of menopause on certain aspects of their lives and bodies. They were less upset at the idea of their menstrual cycles ending, and they weren’t as concerned about how aging would impact their attractiveness and fertility. Many queer women see gender as more flexible than heterosexual women and can go with the flow, so to speak, as they adapt to the change.

Biology includes more than just male and female. It can affect when you hit menopause and the symptoms you experience. Factor in changes from hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and other hormone treatments, and you’ve got a range of physical changes and experiences that vary between different sexualities, genders, and individuals.

Does Gender-Affirming Menopause Care Exist?

Finding a doctor who understands your gender and sexuality can make you feel more comfortable asking questions and advocating for yourself. No matter your gender or sexuality, you need a provider who understands what’s happening with your body.

A doctor with experience working with LGBTQIA+ patients may also offer more information and reassurance about adjusting HRT dosages, adapting to hormonal shifts and appearance changes, and communicating with partners about new needs. You can find LGBTQIA+ inclusive doctors, including gynecologists, through the LGBTQ+ Healthcare Directory.

That said, many LGBTQIA+ people face challenges in accessing healthcare. The rates of poverty, isolation, chronic health problems, and disability are statistically higher than they are for cisgender people. Stress related to these issues can impact how your body and mind feel as you go through menopause, too. That makes having an affirming queer and transgender support system, as well as support from cisgender and heterosexual allies, even more important.

Can You Lose Your Libido if You Never Had It?

Conversations around symptoms like lower libido typically revolve around penis-in-vagina (PIV) sex, which might leave you with questions if you don’t have sex with men…or have sex with anyone. Asexual people naturally experience little to no sexual attraction to any gender. Where many people worry about losing their sex drive, this symptom may not affect an asexual person at all.

When you already have a low or completely absent sex drive, losing your libido during menopause might not feel so daunting. Some asexual people don’t notice a difference, and others aren’t bothered by it if they do.

Do Queer Partners Have It Easier During Menopause?

Even as traditional heterosexual dynamics don’t apply as often in queer relationships, menopause symptoms can still wreak hormonal havoc. Some queer partners both go through menopause and find it easier to support each other. Others have the same trials as many heterosexual partnerships—tension, arguments, questioning whether their partner’s feelings toward them have changed.

Whether you’re queer or not, it can help to communicate with your partner about menopause. Tell them what you’re going through and how your needs change. When they’re not only a life partner but someone who’s on your side and willing to work with you as your body changes, you have the chance to build a stronger relationship as you navigate menopause.

Can Menopause Be a Positive Change?

Some transgender and non-binary people look forward to menopause despite the struggles they face with it. It’s not just because periods can be unpleasant, painful, and physically traumatic. It’s because there’s one less element of gender dysphoria to worry about.

Gender dysphoria is a feeling of discomfort or distress when a person’s gender identity doesn’t align with their sex assigned at birth. Because so much of menopause care and education focuses on how it impacts womanhood, many transgender and nonbinary people feel disconnected and excluded from it.
When a transgender man’s or non-binary person’s period ends for good, it can feel liberating. Even if you’re not trans or non-binary, it’s okay to celebrate menopause and acknowledge mixed feelings about it.
It’s worth noting, too, that not everyone medically transitions, so we can’t assume by looking at someone that they’re comfortable being treated as a woman. You never know where someone is on their gender journey.

Older LGBTQIA+ People Often Get Overlooked

We see it in medical practices, studies, and within the LGBTQIA+ community. While queer people over 40 and 50 make up the majority of LGBTQIA+ people going through perimenopause and menopause, they aren’t always part of the conversations.

Many older LGBTQIA+ people are afraid to talk about their bodies because of the stigma attached to being queer or transgender. Your doctor might not understand your needs, or you may still be new to understanding your identity. If you come out or realize your identity later in life, it can be hard to navigate both menopause and a new understanding of your body in multiple ways at once. The more we include older LGBTQIA+ people in conversations, the more we can understand what it’s like to go through menopause with a queer or transgender identity.

A lot of menopause conversations revolve around hanging onto youth. But for many queer and transgender people, getting older is a celebration in itself. Sometimes, we celebrate menopause, too. It’s a milestone, but not one that necessarily marks a point or ending in womanhood.

Making Menopause More Inclusive

It’s time to change how we talk about “the change.” Menopause varies for everyone, and we can’t assume someone’s sexuality or gender identity just by looking at them.

By including LGBTQIA+ people in conversations about menopause, highlighting our experiences, and providing resources specific to us, we make more people feel comfortable in their bodies as they navigate it.

Full Disclosure

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About The Author

Eli Wood (he/they) is a queer and genderqueer content writer and content strategist. He writes about sexual health and wellness and works to help people feel more comfortable talking about uncomfortable topics, especially within the LGBTQIA+ community. They also create strategic, LGBTQIA+ inclusive content and craft content strategies to help businesses reach their ideal audiences. You can find more of his work on their website.

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