According to the British Menopause Society, 45% of women feel their menopause symptoms have had a negative impact on their work. The menopause is the time when a woman stops having periods, and she’s no longer able to get pregnant. It’s a natural stage of life that can affect women at different ages; the average is 51 but this can vary widely from woman to woman.
We wanted to shine a light on women’s experiences of working through the menopause: how it affected them, and what helped. Here are two stories that were shared with us.
"In the past six months, I’ve struggled with brain fog and tiredness, which is due to waking multiple times a night because of night sweats. I have hot flushes during the day too. The brain fog is the most frustrating thing when you’re used to clear, sharp thinking, then you can’t even remember what you’ve just said to someone.
"I’m now medicated, which helps. What has helped most though has been the understanding of my manager. He performed a risk assessment for me and put things into place which will help. If I’ve struggled with sleep and am not functioning, I can call in and slide my shift if necessary. I can take time out if needed if mood swings get me – just a quick walk around the building can help. I’ve extra support if I need it to do my job. I’ve now got a fan, paid for by the company and I do feel supported. If all management were this understanding, it would massively help women who are going through the menopause.
"I also just wanted to add something which isn’t specific to me but that does impact a lot of menopausal women. Women going through the perimenopause [the stage leading up to the menopause] are also at the age where they may be juggling with teenage children and also elderly parents. Not only do they have to deal with menopause, they have added responsibilities in their lives. It would be good to look at how this could be supported in the workplace."
"I went into a relatively early menopause at around the age of 43 with what is known as perimenopause. A whole myriad of symptoms including feeling as though my core temperature had just risen overall, resulting in never feeling the cold and always being hot (dreading the summer).
“Feelings of pins and needles or crawling under the skin, awful headaches and scalp sensitivity, bloating, incredible tiredness, aches and pains everywhere, along with almost all of the long list of symptoms associated with menopause.
“Sleep? What is sleep? One of the strangest symptoms is the fear of dread that sweeps over, out of the blue and most often at night.
“I’ve found that the symptoms of menopause change throughout the process. Symptoms that were once in the forefront dissipate and are replaced by different symptoms (as hormones lessen and change I guess).
“I made a point of educating myself on all things menopause to help myself and allay any fears that try to creep in. I have used the knowledge I have gained to help work colleagues and friends going through the same experiences. I am able to provide understanding and reassurance and have on a few occasions had a colleague say things like ‘thank goodness – it’s good to know that this or that is normal and not something to worry about’. I try to get them to talk about it and not suffer in silence and in fear.”
Find out more from Bupa
- British Menopause Society. New survey highlights impact of the menopause on every aspect of women’s lives in the UK. www.womens-health-concern.org, published October 2017
- NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries. Menopause. cks.nice.org.uk, last revised March 2017