Managing Menopause at Work
Minimizing Menopausal Sypmptoms during your Workday.
Menopause is a fact of life and reality in the workplace. 1.3 million women enter the menopausal phase every year and will last an average of seven years. Furthermore, most companies haven’t addressed practical ways to accommodate women, especially when many women are at the top of their professional careers. A study conducted in the U.K. estimates that nearly one-in-five menopausal women are contemplating leaving work due to insufficient support they receive from their employers. In other words, there’s no guideline to navigate the physical and mental aspects of working through menopause.
Menopausal symptoms are often accompanied by unpleasant symptoms, such as hot flashes, fatigue, depression, chills, brain fog, and mood swings. These things aren’t something you can leave at home before heading to the office. “Imagine an employee working in the boardroom, who may perspire at the wrong time, for instance, during the presentation,” states Stephanie S. Faubion, MD, Director of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS). “Having menopause symptoms at work can be extremely stressful for women, especially when they are in high stakes situations …” according to Dr Faubion.
The responsibility for creating a safe and comfortable environment falls to the company’s leadership. You’re not alone in those who feel exhausted from hiding or dealing with menopause while at work. There are strategies to care for and support your health and wellbeing while working all day.
Be aware of the Symptoms of Menopause
It’s vital to know the state of your health, says Dr. Jason Rexroth, MD, OB/GYN for Iowa Women’s Health Center, which cares for women in the Central Iowa area. A survey in 2018 conducted by AARP found that even though most women reported that their health issues impacted their lives, only 42% have previously talked about menopause with their healthcare provider.
Talking openly with your doctor could provide relief. “There are numerous efficient and safe treatments for menopausal symptoms. Women must discuss these issues with their doctor,” says Dr. Rexroth. “Hormone therapy, antidepressants (with low doses), bioidentical hormone replacement (BioTE), bio and lifestyle changes are some of the treatments available.
Develop a Wellness Strategy at Work
The experience you gain from working with your doctor can assist you in knowing what you need to request when you are at work. Perhaps your night sweats interfere with your sleep, and you could use that knowledge to request a more relaxed start time. If your company opperates on 24 hour schedule maybe a longer workday which includes a longer lunch or midday meditation. Suppose your hot flashes are exacerbated by workplace temperature. You could request a move closer to the window or air cooling vent.
It is also possible to find relief by incorporating small self-care routines throughout your days. Breathing exercises, for example, could help ease mood swings. Taking B6 vitamins, which can aid in overcoming low energy and depression, may also help. Other practical actions, like changing from hot to cold drinks, and wearing light layers of clothing, could help reduce the risk of having a hot flash.
Normalize menopause through Conversations
If you’re feeling like you’re not the only person experiencing menopause in the office, consider discussing or mentioning symptoms to other coworkers? Many women feel safer when they can discuss symptoms with their colleagues. “Most colleagues would like to help but lack the understanding or tools to help,” says Dr. Rexroth. “With a minimal attempt, try to talk about your symptoms with coworkers. You may find a new partner or alliance you never had before. Having your coworkers become advocates makes things more manageable and will help you find a laugh in the chaos. Positive interpersonal relationships will undoubtedly help you personally. However, it also helps menopause become more normalized and accepted within workplaces. “Menopause at work is where lactation and pregnancy were thirty years ago. Employers must be aware that it’s normal to happen. Supporting women during this change is in everyone’s interests,” says Dr. Faubion.
The relationships you establish with your colleagues could help set the foundation for policy changes within your workplace and other companies in the near future. “What is needed is better workplace policies that aid women with menopause symptoms at work,” says Dr. Faubion. “In the absence of these policies, which are virtually nonexistent within America, United States, women should be able to discuss menopause symptoms in a safe environment without fear of being discriminated against.”
Perhaps your honesty could spark the need for a menopause treatment program in the workplace. At a minimum, it might allow you to request a more specific dress code or the possibility of working from home or disabling your Zoom video. These modifications are crucial to ensuring that everyone feels at ease and secure in professional environments.
When others make commitments to empathize and appreciate the sacrifices women make throughout their lives, whether at work or outside, it will lead to a world that values those going through menopause as they are: knowledgeable, well-educated minds. Women are at their best in work performance and productivity during menopause. Being there for them will make yours and everyone else’s work environment better.
Central Iowa Women’s Health Center is here for you
Iowa Women’s Health Center specializes in making a women’s life better through innovative approaches and modern therapies to keep you in the game: at home and at the office. Give us a call at (319) 200-5900 and when can help you navigate the multitude of options that are available to you.