- Ali Hendry
Menopause and me
The average age for women starting menopause is 51. I write this now as a 51-year-old, doing a self-scan for signs and symptoms. They say forewarned is forearmed, so I have started my homework, albeit in the absence of my body actually committing to its next phase.
Menopausal symptoms could be night sweats, hot flushes, headaches, palpitations, joint stiffness, low mood and anxiety.
So that’s something to look forward to.
According to the British Menopause Society, six out of ten menopausal women state their symptoms have a negative impact on their work. One in four women don’t get the support they need from their managers. In addition, CIPD states two thirds of menopausal women are less able to concentrate, half experience higher levels of stress, and half feel lower levels of patience when interacting with their colleagues.
Even more to look forward to.
With women over 50 being the fastest growing demographic in the workforce, there is never a better time for organisations and managers (and colleagues) to get themselves educated. With reasonable adjustments being a term often associated with disability and religion or belief, we can also focus on how to improve the experience of menopausal women in the workplace.
Firstly, it is important to put emphasis on the solution, rather than the “problem”. Remember, you may bring in some reasonable adjustments aimed at one section of your workforce, but it will likely have an impact on other personnel too. Such as (keeping in mind concentration levels and dwindling patience) why not work on holding shorter, focussed team meetings? That’s a win all round!
Secondly, managers can work on the following:
Remain open to discussing menopause. If you are feeling uncomfortable talking about it, do some research first, using credible websites such as www.nhs.uk and www.thebms.org.uk
Explore reasonable adjustments together. Value the experience of the person going through menopause, they may have the solutions already.
Don’t offer medical advice. Unless qualified to do so.
Don't share personal information without consent.
Do be aware of the interplay between poor performance and health issues.
Don’t make assumptions. Everybody has a different experience of menopause, so ask open questions (e.g., What are your thoughts on menopause? What would help us to improve things around here?)
During and after menopause, the body produces less of the hormone oestrogen. Here are some natural treatments to consider. These could also be applied to a new work procedure (e.g., walk-and-talk 1:1s outside in the park, team chair yoga once a week).
Oestrogen boosts serotonin. Serotonin plays a part in mental wellbeing and mood stabilising. To improve its production, you can exercise in nature (take a walk, or throw a ball or frisbee) or commit to yoga and/or meditation (search for YouTube channels).
Oestrogen impacts how calcium functions. Calcium is partly responsible for bone strength. You can improve this by strength exercises like calf raises (going up and down on tiptoes when you are either sitting or standing) and bicep curls (tuck in your elbows, put one can of baked beans in each hand with palms up, and lift them towards your shoulders).
Vitamin D works with oestrogen to promote bone health. Vitamin D can impact your mood and cognitive performance. You can increase levels by exposure to sunlight.
Ok that’s enough research for now. I’m off for a walk in the sun, while listening to a meditation and powerlifting two cans of beans.