Has the performance of your female colleague dipped, declined or changed somehow?
Are they different?
It could be you’ve noticed they’re taking more absences from work, or perhaps they’re being late when they were always so punctual.
Perhaps they’re more forgetful or even their attitude to work, where it’s been previously good is not as good as it once was.
And it could even be that previously good relationships with work colleagues aren’t as good as they once were.
Now there are many things responsible for changes in your colleagues.
But let’s talk about peri-menopause, menopause and post-menopause and how menopause-related symptoms can leave them struggling at work.
In this blog I’m going to explain peri-menopause, menopause, and post-menopause, the symptoms that your colleague could experience during these stages and how they can affect your colleague and what you can do to create a more menopause aware workplace.
How many women are in the menopausal age range are in work?
Almost 8 out of 10 menopausal women are in work.
The fastest growing demographic in the workforce are menopausal women and it’s estimated that currently, around 13 million women in the UK are either peri-menopausal or menopausal.
This is equal to one-third of the entire UK female population.
What is menopause?
Menopause is when a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally.
Her periods usually start to become less frequent over a few months or years before they stop together and sometimes periods can just stop suddenly.
An important thing to know about menopause is that it’s one day.
It’s that moment that you haven’t had a period for 12 months.
What’s the time before menopause?
This is peri-menopause and it’s the time female bodies start to change.
It’s at this time when it’s possible to start to have a range of symptoms.
Not all women will get severe and debilitating symptoms.
And those going through peri-menopause may have mild symptoms, no symptoms, symptoms at different times or symptoms all at the same time.
For some the peri-menopause and menopause will happen and they’ll easily be able to manage their symptoms.
For others their symptoms range from moderate to extremely problematic.
It’s worth remembering, everyone has a different experience of menopause.
What are the menopause-related symptoms your colleague could experience?
There’s a list of about 40 potential menopause-related symtpoms.
Now that’s a lot of symptoms so rather than going into every single one of them in this blog, we can break them down into two types of symptoms.
Menopause-related symptoms can be psychological or physical.
What are the most common psychological menopause-related symptoms?
They can be:
- Feelings of sadness
- A lack of motivation
- A difficulty concentrating
What are the most common physical menopause-related symptoms?
These can be:
- Hot flushes
- Cold flushes
- Night sweats
- Heavy periods or flooding
- Vaginal dryness
- Heart palpitations
- Joint stiffness
- Aches and pains
- Recurring urinary tract infections
- Low libido
Is there an age when these most common menopause-related symptoms start to happen?
The average age for menopause is 51.
The symptoms can begin from the age of 40 but they can happen earlier.
What can cause menopause-related symptoms to start earlier?
Well it can happen naturally but menopause can also be triggered surgically or medically too.
What the data tells us
In 2018, there was a menopause survey of 1132 women.
(Menopause at Work: a survey to look at the impact of menopausal and peri-menopausal symptoms upon women in the workplace by Rebecca Lewis MBBS FRCA DRCOG MRCGP and Louise Newson BSc(Hons) MBChB(Hons) MRCP FRCGP)
The survey highlighted that 76 women said their symptoms were moderately or extremely problematic at work.
20% said that they had considered leaving work because of their symptoms and this increased to 44% for whose symptoms were extremely problematic.
And the Channel 4 documentary, Davina McCall: Sex, Mind and The Menopause, aired in May 2022, their survey of 4,000 women found that one in 10 women, who have worked while going through menopause, have quit their job directly because of their symptoms.
Their survey also found 14 per cent of women had reduced their hours at work, 14 per cent had gone part-time and eight per cent had not applied for a promotion – again, all because of menopause-related symptoms affecting their ability to do so.
An additional 13 per cent of women who have been employed while going through the menopause say they have considered leaving their job. Women who report experiencing five or more ‘very difficult’ menopause symptoms are more likely (19 per cent) to quit, with disabled women even more likely (22 per cent) to do so.
How long can menopause-related symptoms last?
The average length of time for peri-menopause to menopause can be four years, but many women will still have symptoms for longer than 10 years.
What is post-menopause?
Post-menopause is the name given to the time after a woman has not bled for an entire year so it’s the day after that one day she’s not had a bleed for 12 months.
So really it’s the rest of their life that they’re going to go through after menopause.
During this stage symptoms such as hot flushes may ease for so many women however for some the symptoms can continue for as long as a decade or even longer, after they’ve gone through menopause.
How can the workplace help those that are going through peri-menopause, menopause and are post-menopausal?
- Have empathy for those struggling with menopause-related symptoms.
- Learn about menopause.
- Learn about its symptoms and how they can impact your colleagues.
- Talk about menopause as an organisation.
- Talk to your colleagues about it.
- Introduce menopause hubs or meeting places or meeting times to discuss it.
- Put in place support and help.
- Write and implement a menopause policy.
- Train managers.
Want to know more about menopause awareness for your workplace?
Here’s some further reading.