Menopause is when your periods stop due to lower hormone levels. This usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55.
It can sometimes happen earlier naturally. Or for reasons such as surgery to remove the ovaries (oophorectomy) or the uterus (hysterectomy), cancer treatments like chemotherapy, or a genetic reason. Sometimes the reason is unknown.
Part of the menopause process includes what is termed the ‘perimenopause’ when the person’s body is starting to change in the build up to the menopause. The perimenopause usually starts in the mid-forties, but can start earlier or later and last several years. The perimenopause is not the same as an early menopause.
- In the UK, the average age for a person to go through menopause is 51
- The changing age of the UK’s workforce means that between 75% – 80% of menopausal people work
- Three out of four people experience symptoms, and one in four can experience serious symptoms
What are the symptoms?
The number of symptoms can vary from person to person, and range from very mild to severe. Including:
- difficulty sleeping and night sweats
- feeling tired and lacking energy
- mood swings
- feeling anxious and panic attacks
- hot flushes
- struggling to remember things, concentrate and focus
- taking longer to recover from illness
- irregular periods which can become heavier
- aches and pains including muscle and joint stiffness
- urinary problems
- headaches including migraines
- putting on weight
- noticeable heartbeats
- skin irritation
- dry eyes
Like many health-related issues, there seems to be a stigma around talking about menopause, especially at work.
Often, people may feel embarrassed to approach you and discuss how the menopause is affecting their health and their work.
Supporting an employee through the menopause
An employer must minimise, reduce or where possible remove health and safety risks for employees. This will include:
- ensuring menopausal symptoms are not made worse by the workplace
- making changes to help an employee manage their symptoms when doing their job
- monitoring the temperature and ventilation in the workplace
- ensuring toilet and washroom facilities are easily available
- providing access to cold drinking water
- access to a rest room for breaks if their work involves long periods of standing or sitting,
- access to a quiet area if they need to manage a severe hot flush.
If you’d like to learn more comprehensively about how your company can offer more support, we have a dedicated resource for our Level Up Partners in our Member’s area on creating a safer workplace for those who experience menopause. This includes support on policy, training, wellbeing champions, legal issues and more.