World Menopause Day 2023
Guest blog from Sarah Howson, HR Adviser, AdviserPlus.
World Menopause Day, held annually on October 18th, emphasises the importance of raising awareness about the impacts of the menopause. HR plays a pivotal role in ensuring that employees going through menopause are well-informed about where to access essential support. We believe it is crucial to foster a broader understanding within organisations that support measures should be in place to nurture the well-being of all impacted employees.
It’s crucial to recognise that addressing menopause-related matters requires an ongoing commitment. This commitment should blend professionalism with a heartfelt sense of empathy and compassion for individuals impacted by menopause symptoms. Why is this so important? The statistics speak volumes— an astounding 51% of the worldwide population will go through menopause during their lifetime.
Partners of those going through the menopause are also impacted, and so the impact is far reaching and more awareness about this impact will help to improve support and inclusion.
Embracing menopause: Workplace inclusivity and employee well-being
Menopause, a natural and inevitable phase in a woman’s life, should not be belittled or overlooked within professional settings. In fact, it should be embraced as an essential facet of workplace inclusivity and employee well-being.
In the pursuit of promoting menopause support in the workplace, it is essential to acknowledge the prevalence and individuality of menopause experiences. These experiences are deeply personal, varying in duration, severity and impact, so no one experience may be the same as another. Ethnicity also plays a role, as evidence suggests that the age of menopause onset and symptom severity differs among different ethnic groups.
Developing better awareness and understanding is key to creating inclusive workplaces and for empowering those impacted to navigate this life phase with dignity and confidence.
Failing to consider the impact of the menopause on an employee’s ability to do their job as they have before can lead to serious consequences. Recent high profile cases have highlighted the risk to businesses if they don’t provide adequate accommodations for an impacted employee. This case serves as a strong reminder of the legal and ethical responsibilities that businesses have in taking care of their employees’ overall well-being. It emphasises that we are in a crucial moment where the business world must recognise the importance of providing support for menopausal employees. It’s not just an act of kindness; it’s a strategic necessity that can impact an organisation’s performance and reputation.
An important point to takeaway is that supporting menopause is not just about policies, it requires better training and open conversations about how to improve inclusion for menopausal colleagues. We all need to break the stigma associated with menopause and provide adequate training to improve everyone’s understanding of the potential impact it can have on someone’s ability to work. This video on ‘Managing menopause in the workplace’ sheds light into the barriers many are facing and how to overcome them,
Menopause impacts work, home and families
Many colleagues face challenges at work due to menopause, which can also affect their personal lives. Partners who support their wives during this time may also experience work-related impact. When both partners are going through menopause together, their jobs can become more challenging.
It’s vital to raise awareness and educate managers and employees about the different symptoms that those going through the menopause and their partners may experience. This is essential for creating a workplace culture where people feel comfortable discussing this sensitive topic openly. Many individuals may feel hesitant or embarrassed to talk about it and may not be aware that support is available.
Organisations need to ensure that everyone affected knows where to seek assistance and support. This helps ensure that everyone impacted feels at ease when seeking the help they rightly deserve.
By addressing these points, organisations can create a more inclusive and supportive environment, ultimately improving the well-being and productivity of their workforce by considering the needs and perspectives of all those affected.
The menopause is divided into three basic stages
- Perimenopause – This usually happens between the ages of 45 -55, it is the time leading to the menopause when a woman may experience changes such as irregular periods and other menopausal symptoms – this can be years before the menopause.
- Menopause – This is a biological stage in a woman’s life that occurs when she stops menstruating and has not had a period for 12 consecutive months.
- Postmenopause – This is the time after the menopause, when a woman hasn’t experienced a period for over a year and for the rest of her life.
When we talk about menopausal people, it refers to any of these 3 stages.
Did you know that there are 35 known menopause symptoms?
- Hot flushes and night sweats
- Loss of libido
- Mood swings
- Hair loss
- Weight gain
- Bladder weakness
- Memory lapses
- Irregular periods
- Itchy skin
- Joint pain
- Brittle nails
- Digestive problems
- Low mood
- Vaginal dryness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Emotional changes
- Aching muscles
- Tender breasts
- Heavy periods
- Skin changes
- Panic attacks
Many employees experiencing any of these symptoms may feel overwhelmed in the workplace, so increasing awareness and education of the different symptom’s is integral to them feeling less isolated and more able to receive the right help, support and treatment.
Your questions answered by our colleague, Sarah Howson, HR Adviser, AdviserPlus.
- HRT is not a one size fits all treatment. The decision to prescribe, the dose and its duration is based on the individual’s needs after discussing the benefits and risks.
- Taking HRT doesn’t delay the menopause. Symptoms of the menopause can last for months, years or even decades for some.
- Young women taking HRT do not have a greater risk of breast cancer.
- Women who have had a hysterectomy and take HRT do not have a greater risk of breast cancer.
- Some studies show that taking a combined HRT may be associated with very small increased risk of breast cancer. The increased risk is related to the type of progestogen in the HRT. The level of increased risk of breast cancer is similar to the risk of breast cancer that any woman has if they are overweight or drink around 2 glasses of wine a day.
- There isn’t a set time when the menopause will be over. It is a permanent change to your hormone levels which have an impact on your future health as well as your wellbeing.
What help is out there?
- Your GP
- EAP – Medicash
- Line Manager
- Workplace adjustments
- Occupational Health
- NHS website
- Henpicked – Menopause in The Workplace – https://henpicked.net/menopause/
- The Menopause Charity
- Menopause Matters
- Menopause_doctor – Dr Louise Newson including podcast.
- dr_naomipotter – Dr Naomi Potter
- balancemenopase – including a downloadable app
It is important for us all in society to educate partners, family and friends so that better understanding helps to remove the stigma.
Check out these additional resources to help break the stigma against menopause in the workplace