The menopause is a natural stage of life and yet it remains a taboo subject in many workplaces. A survey carried out by Dr Louise Newson and Dr Rebecca Lewis showed that Over 90% of women surveyed reported that their symptoms were having a negative impact on their work.
In the UK, the menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55.
The Perimenopause is the time before the menopause, when hormone levels start to decline and symptoms start. This typically happens in a person’s 40’s.
Although Menopause is unique to each person experiencing it, most people will go through a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms
These symptoms can fluctuate and different people will experience them to varying degrees. Some (lucky people) have no or few symptoms. But for many, the symptoms can be severe and last for a number of years. This really impacts their quality of life; including their working life.
Some of the most typical symptoms of the menopause include:
- psychological issues such as mood disturbances, anxiety and/or depression, memory loss, panic attacks, loss of confidence and reduced concentration
- hot flushes – brief and sudden surges of heat usually felt in the face, neck and chest
- sleep disturbance that can make people feel tired and irritable
- night sweats – hot flushes that happen during the night
- irregular periods and/or periods can become light or heavy
- muscle and joint stiffness, aches and pains
- recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs) including cystitis
- weight gain
- palpitations – heartbeats that become more noticeable
- skin changes (dryness, acne, general itchiness)
- reduced sex drive.
While the menopause remains a taboo subject at work, it’s where people can find their symptoms most challenging to manage
According to the Fawcett Society Report (April 2022), a survey of almost 4,000 women in the UK, 99% said their menopause symptoms had negatively impacted their careers, and 59% said symptoms had forced them to take time off.
So, what are the top 5 troublesome menopause symptoms affecting women at work?
The Business in the Community survey found that the main symptoms affecting women at work are:
- Hot flushes
- Focus and concentration
- Anxiety and worry
Experiencing any of these symptoms can pose a real challenge and have a wide range of impact, such as feeling:
- less able to concentrate
- an increased amount of stress
- less patience with colleagues/clients
- less productive
- less confident
- less able to cope
- an increased feeling of overwhelm
For many, they don’t recognise their symptoms at first. Without knowledge of the menopause, it can be confusing to understand what is happening and especially difficult to deal with when juggling career, family and relationships.
It’s often put down to the everyday stress of life. But these symptoms are real and not ‘in your head’.
Are any of these top 5 troublesome symptoms affecting you at work?
If you’re struggling to manage any of the symptoms we’ve mentioned then help is at hand. To find out the practical steps you can take to manage these symptoms at work you can request a guide with lots of information, hints and tips here.