Menopause support for staff and line managers
What is menopause?
Menopause is the day a woman has achieved 12 months without periods and Perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause (can be eight years). The average age of menopause is 51 but for some women the symptoms can start much earlier. Some women experience a natural early menopause because of Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI). In Britain 110,000 women between the ages of 12 and 40 are affected. Other women may experience an early menopause due to a hysterectomy (womb removal), oophectomy (removal of ovaries), certain types of chemotherapy drugs and radiotherapy to the pelvic area.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
Menopause causes an imbalance in hormones and this can generate a number of debilitating symptoms that for some women are so severe meet the criteria of a disability. Although hot flushes are typically cited as a stereotypical symptom, for many women the fatigue, painful joints, migraines, mental health issues and brain fog (that can feel like early on-set dementia) are the most difficult to deal with. Women may decide to deal with their symptoms by making lifestyle changes or taking natural supplements or HRT.
What is important to note is that every woman experiences the menopause as an individual and any adjustments should take into account their needs and personal circumstances.
This five minute video from Henpicked shares facts and figures on the menopause that are helpful for those living with the menopause and line managers who are trying to be supportive.
Menopause support group
Our University has an online support group for women going through menopause or any other people experiencing significant hormonal challenges. The Yammer group enables colleagues to share meno experiences, articles and news items about the menopause. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to join.
Our University has signed up with Menopause Friendly to achieve Menopause Accreditation. While we prepare our accreditation submission over the coming year we are ‘Committed to being a Menopause Friendly Employer’.
Our aims include:
- To change mindsets and attitudes towards menopause. Making it as easy to talk about as the weather.
- Everyone to understand what menopause is and be able to talk about it openly. This isn’t just an issue for women, everyone needs to know so they can support colleagues, friends and family.
- Those experiencing menopause symptoms to feel confident to discuss it and ask for support if they need it to continue being happy and successful at work.
- Managers to understand menopause, to confidently have good conversations, and know how to help.
We will keep sharing updates on progress over the coming months.
Your role as a manager in supporting those experiencing menopause symptoms is crucial. Offering support to colleagues with menopausal symptoms that are impacting on their work will help you to improve your team’s morale, retain valuable skills and talent, and reduce sickness absence.
This guide covers four compelling reasons why you should be supporting menopause in the workplace:
- Demographic case
- Business case
- Legal case
- Social responsibility case
- Menopause in the Workplace - manager's essentials
Eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly can help to improve some menopausal symptoms. There are lots of options that can help you get active and feel good.
On campus there is huge support for your wellbeing:
- Fitness classes
- UOM Sport
- University gyms and aquatics centre
- St Peter’s House
- The Whitworth – Creative responses to the menopause
- MCR Strollers
- Wellbeing homepage
Healthy eating and menopause
There will be many different diets recommended for those experiencing menopausal symptoms, but there will be some underlying basics in all.
- Menopause charity - healthy eating during menopause
- British Nutrition Foundation - Nutrition and menopause
- Balance.com - healthy eating
- Henpicked - nutrition and exercise
Members of the trans and non-binary community can sometimes experience menopause symptoms if they are taking hormonal treatments. So it is vital for employers, managers and colleagues to be trans and non-binary inclusive in the support they give.
Not every trans or non-binary person takes hormones. A person can change their gender expression without any medical intervention whatsoever. Those taking hormones to feminise will usually take oestrogen and progesterone, along with testosterone blockers. To masculinise, they will take testosterone and oestrogen blockers. People taking these hormones have regular health checks.
Most trans people who start their transition at pre-menopausal age will never go through menopause in terms of the hormone depletion effects. This is because gender affirming hormones are typically given for life, so if a trans person starts hormone treatment before going through menopause they will never experience it.
For trans women taking oestrogen, there is no need to withdraw oestrogen treatment at any particular age to induce menopause. It was previously thought that there was a risk associated with lifelong oestrogen treatment, but although the dosage might be reduced in some circumstances, this no longer seems to be the case.
Menopause symptoms can arise as a trans person comes off hormones, which they may have to do for procedures. They may experience the same symptoms when they restart the hormones. This hormone disruption can cause sleeplessness, fatigue, lack of concentration, mood swings, hot sweats… all similar to those which can be experienced during menopause. People experiencing these symptoms will potentially need the same workplace support as those going through menopause. This is where employers and managers need to make sure they are being fully inclusive.
Adjustments like change of uniform, access to toilet facilities and cold water, plenty of ventilation, and the chance to ask for flexible working can support all people with these symptoms.
If you have any concerns or questions about menopause, talk to your GP, who can advise you and signpost you to further support. If you feel uncomfortable talking to your GP about your menopause symptoms for any reason, Stonewall has a list of NHS organisations that are Diversity Champions and an information service that can offer advice on who to contact. You can call them on 08000 50 20 20.
Throughout the year, and especially around International Women's Day, there are events to attend that raise awareness of menopause and women's issues. In 2022 it was our honour to welcome the Menopause Bus Choir who shared their joy to all attendees and passers-by!