What employers need to know
In 2018, Jenni Dunn noticed subtle shifts in her mood and focus.
Dunn, who oversaw sales and marketing for a boutique hotel in London, found that tasks she had previously done with ease were becoming more difficult, such as copywriting, networking, idea generation and compliance. delays.
She also started experiencing memory problems, brain fog, and insomnia.
“I remember one day I was sitting staring at my screen for two hours and unable to write a sentence. The words just wouldn’t come,” she recalls. “I thought I was going crazy or had dementia praecox.”
She discovered that the symptoms were related to menopause. In the UK, nearly 6 million transgender women and men are living with menopause. In the United States, about 27 million people, or 20% of the working population, suffer from the disease.
According to a 2022 report, nearly 20% of people with the disease in the United States have quit or considered quitting a job because of their symptoms. Yet menopause is rarely discussed or supported in the workplace, said Melissa Ashley, co-founder of the American edition of Let’s all talk about menopausea health information society.
She said the stigma associated with menopause is partly to blame.
“Until the late 1920s, there was very little medical information about menopause, and many thought it was a sign of female hysteria,” Ashley said. “We now know that is not true, but the subject has always been very secretive because our society tends to idolize young people. And women, in particular, fear discrimination on the basis of age.”
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Dr. Mache Seibel, women’s health expert who wrote Working Through Menopause: The Impact on Women, Business and Bottom Lines (BookBaby, 2022), said labor can be particularly difficult for people going through menopause.
“Imagine arriving at work tired, anxious, foggy, in a bad mood, not knowing when you might feel a sudden flush of heat and soak your clothes in sweat,” he said. “It all added up to the chores of the day, both at work and at home.”
Symptoms of menopause include:
- Hot flashes.
- Night sweats.
- Mood changes.
- Weight gain and slow metabolism.
- Thinning hair and dry skin.
A 2021 survey of more than 5,000 women at different stages of menopause found that 3 in 5 experienced adverse symptoms at work and 1 in 3 actively concealed its effects from colleagues and managers. Almost half said they feared being stigmatized by disclosing their condition.
“It’s important to note that menopause is a decade-long experience with more than 34 symptoms affecting women at the peak of their careers,” said Alesandra Henderson, CEO and Founder of Elektra Health, a health education platform. menopause. “We spend upwards of 40-50 hours a week in the workplace, so that’s an incredibly high number of employees who are navigating a topic that isn’t said or discussed.”
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After learning of her menopause, Dunn discovered that many businesses in the UK lacked knowledge and awareness of the effects of the disease.
“Hospitality in the UK is a young person’s career, and I was the oldest member of staff,” Dunn explained. “As an organization, they were incredibly racially and culturally diverse, [but] they just hadn’t reached the stage where menopause was impacting the workforce and the business.”
She told her company that her job was becoming more difficult due to her symptoms. They tried to talk her out of quitting, saying they would be responsible for sharing her critical duties. She decided to keep working, but her managers didn’t show much sympathy for her challenges.
“I ended up having a panic attack so I quit four days later,” said Dunn, who co-founded the UK edition of Let’s all talk about menopause. “I told them the role was affecting my mental health.”
Companies can better support postmenopausal employees and reduce stigma by:
- Make all employees aware of the effects of menopause.
- Train and educate managers on potential symptoms of menopause and how to support female workers affected.
- Create a menopause policy so people with symptoms know what they are entitled to.
- Foster an environment where people can comfortably engage in discussions about menopause.
- Treat menopause as a medical issue and highlight it in health awareness initiatives.
“Investing in menopause support can reduce absenteeism, attract and retain senior female talent, and reduce health care costs,” Henderson added.
Ashley stressed the importance for workers and employers to get information from credible sources because of the many myths and misnomers surrounding menopause.
“It’s okay to read blogs and empathize on social media, but it’s important to see a qualified healthcare provider for any questions about personal health or medical conditions,” he said. she declared.
For example, the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) has a menopause practitioner search tool on its website to help women find a NAMS-certified menopause practitioner. And the Let’s all Talk Menopause website offers free webinars with highly trained health professionals.
As Ashley said, “Understanding what’s going on in the body during menopause and the variety of symptoms that can be experienced will empower women to take control of their health and quality of life as they recover. strive for healthy aging.”