There’s no denying that menopause is a hot topic at the moment. Following the Channel 4 documentary, Davina McCall: Sex, Myths and the Menopause, which sought to remove the ‘shroud of embarrassment, shame and fear around this topic’1, there has been a rise in the number of women reaching out to medical professionals for help.
Shortly after the documentary aired, doctors and patient activists launched The Menopause Charity to offer every GP practice menopause training to promote better access to HRT (hormone replacement therapy). Since then over 5,000 of the 9,374 NHS practices have signed up.2
It’s estimated that roughly 13 million women in the UK are menopausal or perimenopausal (around menopause).3 Of that number, the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM) reports that nearly eight out of 10 menopausal women are in work.4
That’s why now is the perfect time for businesses to consider what more they could be doing to help educate and support their employees on the subject of menopause.
What is menopause?
Menopause is a natural part of aging that usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 when a woman’s oestrogen levels drop. The NHS describes menopause as ‘when a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally.’5 The average age for a woman in the UK to experience menopause is 51, with roughly one in 100 having symptoms before the age of 40, which is known as premature menopause.6
It’s reported that 45% of women don’t recognise they could be experiencing menopause-related symptoms7 such as hot flushes, irregular periods, mood swings, anxiety, vaginal dryness, night sweats, reduced libido, muscle and joint ache, problems sleeping, and memory problems.
Menopause and the workplace
According to the Office of National Statistics, menopausal women are the fastest-growing workforce demographic8 with one in five women taking time off work due to menopausal symptoms.9
Despite this, FOM reports that the management of gender-specific health issues (other than pregnancy) are rarely discussed10 with over a third of women reporting that their employer did not offer training, awareness sessions, or discussion groups on the topic of menopause.11
So it’s no wonder a survey by the shop workers’ union Usdaw found that over half of women didn’t feel able to approach their managers if they were suffering.9
The benefits of menopause training in the workplace
For many years, menopause has been something of a taboo subject. That’s why the majority of women are reluctant to disclose menopause-related health issues with their line managers, who are often male or younger than them.12
Offering menopause training to your employers will help raise awareness of the subject and remove the ‘shroud of embarrassment, shame and fear’1.
The need for employers to introduce training and flexible working patterns for mid-life women was highlighted by the Government Equalities Office 2017 research report.13 In their guidance and model policy on menopause in the workplace14, the UK’s largest union, UNISON, states that ’employers should ensure that all line managers and HR staff have been trained to be aware of how the menopause can affect work. In addition, all staff would benefit from training to raise awareness and understanding, and to share experiences.’
In short, introducing menopause training to your workforce will give your staff the confidence to make informed decisions and offer guidance and support that can make a huge difference in the lives of many.
Workplace menopause workshop
To help your staff better understand the implications around menopause so that they feel empowered to support their colleagues, family, and friends through this natural process, we introduced our Menopause Workshop.
The informative and inclusive session covers the following topics:
• What is menopause
• How hormones impact all aspects of life
• What are the typical menopausal symptoms and how symptoms can affect work and work can affect symptoms
• What are the medical and holistic options available to manage these symptoms
• Where to get further information and help
To find out more, contact us today.