The HOT Topic
Menopause. The hot topic with previous little mention in the workplace.
It is positive that increasingly more businesses are now recognising the importance of opening up about the menopause.
Supporting staff who are effected personally or through its impact to a loved one, a friend or colleague.
What are the symptoms?
Each woman will experience the menopause but the degree in which they are affected will greatly vary from one person to another. The menopause will often occur between the ages of 45-55 but can occur as early as 30.
Peri-menopause can occur 4-5 years before a person enters in to the menopause itself.
Making it possible for a person to be symptomatic for around 8 – 10 years. A huge chunk of their life in and out of the working environment.
The menopause can present itself through a number of psychological and physical symptoms. Someone may experience one, a few, many or even none of these symptoms. 1 in 5 women will not experience any symptoms at all.
some of the most common symptoms include;
· Hot flushes
· Brain fog
· Sleepless nights
· Increased perspiration
· Mood swings
· Racing heart
· Irregular or skipped periods
Did you know?
Symptoms of the menopause have also been reported in people receiving certain medical treatments such as IVF or treatment for prostate cancer.
The impact of the menopause at work
Experiencing sleepless nights once or twice a week would make most people feel pretty exhausted by the end of the week and take it's toll on their ability to perform to the best of their capacity.
Imagine this becoming a regular occurrence. The impact of this will take its toll not only on your physical and mental well being but in the working environment with a probably decrease in productivity, focus, patience with others and motivation.
This is just one possible scenario. Where someone experiences more than one of these symptoms, the peri-menopause and menopause can seem like a long, tiring and lonely road.
What can workplaces do to help?
Talk about the menopause. Change perceptions. Make it a social norm. Inform your directors, managers and all of your team.
Enabling management to recognise when someone in their team may be experiencing symptoms or difficulties opens the door to meaningful discussions and the opportunity to explore additional support.
As symptoms vary it is important to remember that one solution or option of support is not going to suit everyone.
Reasonable support options may Include providing desk fans, additional uniform, sanitary products in the toilets, quiet work spaces, changes to shifts, occupational health referral and frequent rest breaks.
Another popular option is to introduce a menopause social group with scheduled meetings for those experiencing symptoms, wanting more information or are post-menopausal. Enabling others to share their experiences, put forward ideas for improving the working environment or to raise questions.
How can we inform our staff?
Introduce a policy and arrange informal group discussions for all to attend. Discussing the purpose of the policy and providing an overview of the menopause, its symptoms and options of support.
Including both men and women in the conversation breaks down barriers and provides insight in to how the menopause not only affects women but can also impact men in and out of the working environment in varied ways.