Menopause – The Perfect Storm!
Did you know that menopause directly impacts 51% of the population and approximately 86% of women do not fully understand peri-menopause* and menopause.
Susan Grayson, founder of Younique Inclusion, is on a mission to improve understanding of
this important topic and bring menopause conversations into the open. Menopause is a natural biological process experienced by women** typically in their late 40s or early 50s, with the average age of Menopause in the UK being 51. However, it remains a topic that is often stigmatised, overlooked and not discussed openly.
3 in 4 women experience symptoms
1 in 4 women experience severe symptoms
1 in 10 women who have worked during menopause have left due to their symptoms
Many women would not tell their employer their absence was menopause related
In this article, we will focus on the importance of understanding menopause enabling everyone to navigate this transformative phase of life with knowledge, accessing the right support at the right time. By understanding the physical, emotional, and hormonal changes that occur during peri-menopause and menopause, women can better manage the emotional, physical and psychological symptoms. This knowledge empowers women to seek support, whether it's through lifestyle adjustments, hormone replacement therapy, or seeking professional advice. By understanding menopause, women can take proactive steps to care for their overall health and well-being during this significant stage of life.
Who does Menopause impact?
Everyone will have a different experience of menopause. People will have different symptoms and different thoughts on how they approach menopause. Menopause is a unique physiological process experienced by biological women and each experience will be very different. However, many others also experience menopause symptoms such as transgender individuals, cancer patients and those who go through surgery which results in an enforced menopause.
Menopause and Intersectionality
When you think of the word menopause you may think about an older, white woman suffering hot flashes and mood swings. However, this is a historical, outdated stereotype. We must change the narrative and understand that menopause intersects with various aspects of identity such as disability, sexuality, gender, age, culture and can result in unique experiences for women from different racial backgrounds. While menopause is a universal transition that all women go through, research suggests that there may be differences in the way menopause manifests among women of different races. Factors such as genetics, cultural norms, lifestyle, socioeconomic status, and healthcare access can all contribute to these variations. Studies have shown that certain symptoms, such as the intensity of hot flashes, mood swings, and the age at which menopause occurs, may differ among racial groups. However, it is important to note that these findings are not definitive, and each individual's experience of menopause is ultimately influenced by a range of personal and environmental factors.
So, what are the symptoms I might experience?
When asked what the typical symptoms of the menopause are – people often struggle to come up with more than 2 or 3 symptoms. In reality there are numerous symptoms attributable to the menopause. Here are some examples:
· Hot flashes
· Brain fog
· Night sweats
· Mood changes
· Weight gain and slowed metabolism
· Thinning hair and dry skin
· Sleep problems
· Aches and pains
· Bone loss
· Cardiovascular issues
This list feels like a lot to deal with – then consider that some will experience a few or all of these symptoms over a period of many years – you can see why menopause can have a significant impact on being able to show up at work, and in everyday life! Often women dealing with menopause are also juggling family life, helping to care for teenagers and ageing parents. All of this can result in the perfect storm which is why so many women leave the workplace at this stage of life.
When does Menopause take place?
Women are living longer and working longer than they did 100 years ago and as a result are experiencing menopause symptoms whilst working. The most common age to experience menopause in the UK is between the ages of 45 – 55 and the average age of menopause in the UK is 51. Historically, menopause occurred in the latter stages of life while women were no longer working. These days women are often at the peak of their career, perhaps caring for elderly relatives and raising children whilst navigating peri-menopause and menopause.
So, Where can you go for help:
There is no need to suffer in silence – there are so many resources to help you navigate your menopause and get the support you need. However, there are so many options and advice available from a variety of different resources, often giving conflicting advice. It can feel overwhelming to decide what is best for you. It is important that you use trusted resources. To help you with this, here are some reliable sources of information and support:
Your complete guide to Menopause, symptoms and treatments, including what to do and when to get help
National Institute of Health and Care Excellence; guideline for our Evidence-based recommendations developed by independent committees, including professionals and lay members, and consulted on by stakeholders.
Provides support to women, along with their families and partners, who have been diagnosed with POI
An award winning, independent website providing up-to-date, accurate information about the Menopause, menopausal symptoms and treatment options
The British Menopause Society
Join a local Menopause Support group or attend a Menopause Cafe
Ask your employer:
Is there a menopause absence policy in place?
Where can I find menopause guidance and support and is it easily accessible?
What wellbeing benefits offer menopause support?
Are desk top fans easily accessible?
Do you train managers to raise awareness of menopause and provide a supportive team environment?
Do you offer regular menopause support groups facilitated by an expert?
Do you offer training and resources for individuals?
Do you offer access to a menopause coach for one-to-one support?
Follow #YouniqueMenopause for helpful articles, discussion and updates on the menopause and access to a range of support for individuals and employers.
It's time to break the silence and embrace menopause, understand the menopause and put a plan in place to navigate this important life change with the support you need and deserve.
*Peri-Menopause occurs when hormone levels begin to change and fluctuate causing irregular periods and bleeding. Menopause is when periods have stopped for a period of 12 months.
**For the purpose of this article the use of the word women refers to biological women experiencing peri/Menopause symptoms. It should also be acknowledged that a larger group of society can experience these symptoms for many different reasons such as those who are transgender, cancer patients and surgically enforced peri/Menopause.