Menopause at work and at home
Menopause at work and at home: In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51. Sometimes periods stop suddenly, though often they start to become less frequent over a few months or years before they stop altogether. Around one in 100 women experience the menopause before 40 years of age. There are two types of menopause:
Menopause is when someone haven’t had a period for 12 months, and usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55; if it happens before the age of 40 it is called premature menopause. This can happen naturally, following certain types of surgery (hysterectomy/removal of ovaries) or cancer treatments, or sometimes for an unknown reason.
Perimenopause is when periods become less regular due to lower hormone (oestrogen) levels, and can last a few months or several years. Symptoms of perimenopause and menopause vary from person-to-person and can have a significant impact on life, relationships, and work. Some women have no symptoms at all, others may experience symptoms for a relatively short period of time, whilst others may have long-lasting symptoms which are severely distressing. Symptoms of perimenopause and menopause can include:
- Mood swings
- Hot flushes
- Irregular/debilitating periods
- Night sweats
- Joint and muscle pain
- Vaginal dryness
- Lack of interest in sex
- Lack of energy
- Hair thinning
- Skin changes
People may find that they are no longer able to do things which are normal for them, resulting in loss of self-confidence and self-esteem, and impacting negatively on their mental health and wellbeing. Other natural age-related changes can be intensified by the menopause, resulting in a higher risk of conditions such as osteoporosis and heart disease.
Remedies to help with the symptoms of menopause
During the perimenopause and menopause, it’s really important to look holistically at how one can improve their health, due to its impact on longer term physical and mental wellbeing. There is substantial evidence-based information about the menopause, long-term health risks, and treatments that can alleviate symptoms and safeguard future health, and this is widely available and easily accessible. The benefits of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) far outweigh any risks for the vast majority of women, and Menopause Specialist, Dr Louise Newson, usually advises women to consider HRT to replace the missing hormones caused by the perimenopause and menopause. In addition, she advises that women take responsibility for their lifestyle and wellbeing, giving consideration to nutrition, exercise, sleep, and relaxation.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the main medical treatment for perimenopause and menopause, and works by replacing the hormones that are at low levels. There are different types and doses of HRT, and symptoms typically improve with the correct treatment; one of the benefits of HRT is that it can reduce your risk of osteoporosis and heart disease. If someone chooses not to try HRT, or if there is a reason why they cannot have it, there are other non-hormone treatments which can be prescribed to help alleviate symptoms. Other treatment options include talking therapy such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), which can help with anxiety and low mood; oestrogen creams or gels; testosterone creams or gels. Treatment may be needed for a few years until symptoms have stopped, and you can decide to continue taking it for as long as needed; a yearly review with a GP or practice nurse gives you the opportunity to discuss the risks and benefits for you personally, and decide what is best for you.
The Balance app provides information about perimenopause and menopause, and gives women up-to-date advice and menopause support at their fingertips. Users are able to identify and track their symptoms, and create an individualised health report to share with their GP or other health professional. They can also access personalised, expert content on symptoms, conditions and treatments, and share stories of their menopause experiences. The Balance app is medically approved, and can be recommended to women experiencing symptoms by health care professionals, in order to help speed up the process of accurately diagnosing the menopause and commencing appropriate treatment.
How employers can help with symptoms of menopause at work
It is important that employers recognise perimenopause and menopause at work as a health and wellbeing concern for their employees, by providing a supportive workplace environment. This can help minimise the risk of negative impact on employees’ mental health, self-confidence and associated sickness absence from work. Employers should make sure they have processes, procedures and support in place to help employees affected by the perimenopause and menopause at work.
This could include:
- Offering flexible or home working
- Ensure supportive and inclusive environment
- Provide “menopause at work” training for managers
- Consider a “Menopause Champion” as a first point of contact for employees
- Ensure uniforms or workwear are comfortable/adapt if necessary
- Offer comfort breaks
- Provide wellness baskets in toilet areas and restrooms (e.g. face wipes, body spray, hand cream/moisturiser)
- Ensure employees privacy and dignity is maintained
- Enable sensitive discussions between employees and management
- Menopause Policy
Information above has been sourced from NICE/NHS/ACAS/Dr. Louise Newson – balance. Further information and support can be accessed via the following links:
To learn more about how you can support employees going through the menopause, and for more useful resources, contact us!