On 18th October it is World Menopause Day. It is a day of awareness and to improve support for the health and wellbeing of women affected by the menopause. The International Menopause Society announced that the theme of 2022 is cognition and mood.
As an inclusive employer, we recognise the importance of helping women in the workplace through menopausal symptoms. There are around 4 million women in the workplace aged 45-55. In January, a government poll outlined that 25% of women experiencing peri / menopause consider leaving their role, and 50% had not taken on additional roles or responsibilities because of menopause.
The Menopause Charity have outlined their vision for menopause across the world:
“Our vision is of a world where the menopause is embraced and viewed as an opportunity for new beginnings, adventures, and opportunities. A world where all women have access to evidence-based information and appropriate care and treatment. A world where everyone – women, men, family, friends, health professionals, employers, colleagues and more – understand the changes that occur in a woman’s body during perimenopause and menopause and are equipped to help manage them. Our mission is to help people understand the mental and physical changes that occur during perimenopause and menopause and provide them with the tools and treatments needed to manage those.”
We are committed to supporting our colleagues who are affected by the menopause in any way, regardless of gender. We have added the menopause to policies and inductions, training our managers on supporting strategies, establishing menopause ambassadors, and hosting support groups for colleagues.
Lisa Cairns, our Managing Director in the North, shares her own experience of the menopause, as well as her passion for creating awareness around the topic.
“I have historically run secure women’s services, so women’s issues are very important to me personally, and with both patients and staff.
“In the past I have completed projects alongside patients to look at the history of Women’s mental health, for example in the 1920’s Women were sent to Mental Institutions for giving birth outside of wedlock under the Mental Deficiency Act 1913. This act allowed local authorities to certify and institutionalise unmarried, pregnant Women who were deemed “defective”.
“Many Women were also admitted due to “Hysteria” something that was often connected what we now know as the Menopause. In the late 1800’s “gynaecological surgery” was thought to be the answer, as it was believed that female reproductive organs were linked to emotional and physical wellbeing and were thus the most likely cause of mental illness. Thankfully we have come a long way, and these are well in the past.
“Menopause and the way we talk about it and support women is something that will always be close to my heart especially following my own personal experience. I have been through the menopause or menopausal symptoms 3 times, once due to medication, once due to surgery, and then finally at the age of 40, full blown menopause. During my experience I knew there was something not right with my presentation so I booked an appointment with a female GP thinking that she would be more understanding, however, it wasn’t a good experience. When my results came back, I was told that there was “no further action required”. I knew that I still wasn’t feeling right so persevered and asked to see another Doctor. I questioned my hormone levels and was told that normal levels should be 22, peri menopause should be 33 and then anything above that was full blown menopause. My results were actually at 83! My advice would be that you know your body better than anyone and if you feel that there has been some change, go to your GP and don’t give up.
“The average age of a person going through a natural menopause is 51 years old, but it can happen any time. My own personal journey started at the age of 24 which is why I became so passionate for creating awareness so that everyone can get the help and support that they need.
“In previous organisations I have presented to staff groups to break down the barriers of talking about this openly. My view is that it’s nothing to be ashamed of as it’s an inevitable part of life for us so there is no need to be embarrassed. I also found that it is quite often the subject of ridicule but being kept awake all night due to extreme hot flushes, or forgetting what you’ve gone into another room for, is no laughing matter when you are trying to do a full-time job too!
“I am really keen on ensuring that everyone, whether they be a manager, a member of staff, or a service user, is as aware of the Menopause as they can be. The menopause is a very individual thing, but I am proud that some of my talks encouraged people to go to their GPs and get the help that they needed.
“I would recommend people to look at Rock My Menopause. which is a great charity with such useful menopause information and resources.”
We are continuously finding new ways in which we can support the menopause in the workplace.
If you require further information or resources, please visit the links below.