7 Helpful Hints For Menopause Friendly Workplaces
Look around you. You may not realise it, but you are surrounded. You may have a few at home. There are countless numbers of them at work. They are on your train, your plane, your bus and even……… in your very own car. Somehow, without us even realising it. They. Are. Everywhere.
I know, I know. This is a very silly way to start an article, but it seemed like a good way to draw your attention to the amazingly complex and poetic functions of women and their bodies. There are so many things about being female which we take for granted. In fact, we may not even be able to take some of these things for granted, as we are simply oblivious to them. For example, at some point in early adolescence, a key caregiver will have a gentle conversation with a girl about her menstrual cycle. From this time onwards, the management of this becomes a very personal and hidden journey as this girl progresses from youth to maturity. Unfortunately, however, there is rarely a sage advisor helping us at the other end. So what we find is that many women will suffer in silence as they go through their own private experience of menopause. Our aim is to demystify this part of the journey, to open up communication, and to assist women to feel part of their physiological and psychological health and wellbeing.
“many women will suffer in silence as they go through their own private experience"
What is menopause?
Menopause is the permanent end of a woman’s menstrual cycle. It can occur in the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s or 60s. It can occur naturally or as the result of other health related issues. It usually takes place over a period of time that health practitioners have labelled as menopausal transition. This transition consists of perimenopause, menopause, and post menopause.
While there are a raft of physical symptoms associated with menopause (such as hot flashes and night sweats), there is less agreement amongst the medical profession as to the ways in which it impacts our mood and general psychology. What is agreed upon, however, is that menopause is a normal part of aging which should not be seen as a problem, rather as another life stage to accept and work with.
<“behaviours at work may be greatly influenced by the changes taking place”
Menopause and the workplace.
With the understanding that menopause is a hormonal transition process, comes the inevitable impact that these hormonal changes can have upon our behaviour and our sense of self. And because no woman is an island, so do we know that our behaviours at work may be greatly influenced by the changes taking place in our body. Some women have reported feeling fatigued and needing to adjust how they work. Others have reported changes in mood which in turn impact the way they relate to colleagues and customers.
Irrespective of the outcome, at any one time, over 50% of our female staff may be managing menopausal symptoms. This is why women need to feel supported and valued within their workplace, so that this normal hormonal transition doesn’t derail how they feel about, and function within, the work environment.
Some helpful hints for our work environment include:
- Educating management as to the signs, symptoms and remedies which may be associated with menopause so that they feel better equipped to respond
- Encouraging access to desk fans to help with temperature regulation during hot flashes
- Making sure that fresh cool water can be easily accessed
- Understanding that more frequent toilet breaks may be needed
- Accommodating any changes that may need to be made to work uniforms (for example, changes in fabrics.)
- Making work hours flexible to manage fatigue and any specialist appointments that may be scheduled
- Promoting a sense of openness so that women can discuss their experience and not be embarrassed to ask for assistance
The following resources are excellent ways to access further information:
To get an understanding of the ways in which AccessEAP can assist both individuals and the broader workplace community to understand and work with Menopause and its symptoms, please contact 1800 818 728.