World Menopause Day 2022
According to the NHS, the menopause is when your periods stop due to lower hormone levels and usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55. However, some individuals can go through the menopause earlier, due to natural reasons or because of medical conditions or treatments.
Due to this change in hormone levels, it can lead to a variety of symptoms including anxiety, mood swings, brain fog and hot flushes. Some of these symptoms can have a big impact on relationships and work. Everyone will experience the menopause differently and the severity of symptoms can vary between individuals.
In a recent article published by the CIPD, they stated that menopause can have a big impact on the lives of employees and negatively impact their performance and attendance whilst at work. The physical and psychological symptoms of menopause can be distressing and affect relationships with colleagues. In some cases, individuals may need to take time off work but may feel unable to tell their manager the reason behind their absence.
At Inspire North, we have developed a Menopause Policy to provide support to employees going through the menopause. We have also developed advice and guidance for managers around the menopause so that every individual can continue to work in a way that suits them.
To recognise World Menopause Day this year, we spoke to some of our senior female leaders: Chief Executive, Ruth Kettle, Director of People and Culture, Donna Gooby, and Group Director of Operations, Michelle de Souza about the significance of the new Menopause Policy and their own experiences and advice.
Why do we need the new Menopause Policy and why now?
According to CIPD research, three in five (59%) of working women between the ages of 45 and 55 with menopause symptoms say it has a negative impact on them at work; three in ten (30%) said they had been unable to go into work because of their symptoms, but only a quarter of them felt able to tell their manager the real reason for their absence.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to menopause transition due to the unique way in which we experience the range of potential symptoms and so support, and adjustments need to be tailored to suit an individual’s unique needs.
Therefore, we have developed our Menopause Policy to empower employees if they are experiencing the menopause transition to manage their symptoms with the right organisational support in place at the right time.
How has the menopause affected you?
The usual physical symptoms such as sleep disruption. Some people are also affected by confidence and anxiety problems too. When the menopause is happening, your place in the world shifts as middle-aged women, so it’s important to consider that what might be seen as menopause related issues could be related to social issues such as ageism and the effects of behaviours towards older women in society.
It’s also a time when big life changes are more likely to happen, such as parents passing away, ill health, children leaving home, divorce. All of this might be going on at once so not always as simple to put it down to menopause.
What I really noticed first was night sweats, I didn’t sleep for a week, and this really affected me (I desperately need my sleep). Luckily, I was on adoption leave at the time so went to the GP to talk through what was happening and what options I had to help me (turns out there was nothing except HRT as I was too young).
What adjustments or adaptations in the workplace can support people?
We should see working patterns as more flexible. Some people, where business needs allow, may find it easier to start the day late and work into the evening or vice versa.
Do you think there are any on-going issues or barriers to discussions on menopause?
It’s potentially a very personal issue depending on what’s going on with the individual. Also, if someone wants to progress their career, it might not feel like it’s in their interest to disclose all the things about themselves that makes them find the job harder than they used to because of menopause symptoms.
I was on leave at the time so it’s difficult to say what I would have needed; lack of sleep was my main problem so thinking about ways to accommodate this at work could benefit individuals going through the same thing.
Do you have any advice to offer to those going through the menopause?
Follow the experts, there are a few knowledgeable people now you can follow on Twitter and Instagram e.g., @drlouisenewson. Its best to go to your GP armed with knowledge and ask for what you want. Be prepared for a lot of trial and error to find what works for you.