18 Oct

The Menopause…is it the last taboo in the workplace?

Menopause the last workplace tabooOver the last 20 years many barriers have been broken down regarding a wide range of issues that impact people during their working lives, including gender, race, physical and mental health. Whilst people feel more comfortable to open up about some of these issues there are others that remain “taboo” despite the impact being far reaching. One such “taboo” is the menopause and the symptoms associated with it, often misunderstood and or unrecognised until the symptoms have overtaken a person.

So what, when women have been dealing with the menopause “since time began”? As a therapist I see lots of different people, often referred by their employer. Many are women with careers and families who are struggling with life and work, experiencing anxiety, depression, stress, insomnia, and hot flushes etc. On discussing their issues, it is concluded they are going through peri-menopausal or are in menopause, the majority are shocked because they perceive that “the menopause” is something that happens when you are well into your 50’s or when retired. It can be a revelation to learn that the menopause isn’t something that waits for retirement and as we are working longer women need to find ways to live in harmony with the menopause.

So why do we need to address it now?

According to NHS Choices the menopause usually occurs between the age of 45 and 55 years and in the UK the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51. Given that there are more women in workplace, working longer and juggling the demands of a career and family it’s little surprise that the menopause can have a significant impact. In terms of a woman’s working lifetime, the menopause hits at around the halfway point. Many women have just re-established themselves in the workplace with their career after having children, when they start with peri-menopausal symptoms.

Inform & educate at work

It makes absolute sense for employers to think about this aspect of women’s health as part of any workplace health and wellbeing strategy. By employers taking a proactive approach to raise awareness, the benefit will be felt not only by those women who are approaching or going through the menopause, but everyone whatever gender or age. Whether you are a man or woman, you may work with someone who is going through the menopause, you may have a wife, partner, family or friend who is struggling. Education is the key; there are so many misconceptions about the menopause because every woman may be affected in a different way. Some may encounter physical symptoms; others may experience mental and emotional symptoms, or may experience the whole shebang!

Having a better understanding of the associated symptoms and behaviours enables people to offer support and have more empathy. It’s an unavoidable fact of life; nearly every woman will go through ‘The Menopause’ at some point. To break this last taboo we need to start a conversation…so let’s start that conversation in your workplace today.

Find out how The Evolve Organisation can help start the conversation email clair@evolveorganisation.com