I’m Having a Funny Moment – The Menopause

‘I’m having a funny moment’ were the words my mother would always use. Little did I know that this was a menopause moment! 

I must admit I was around 24 years old when my mother began to go through the menopause, and I genuinely had no idea that this is what she was going through. I cannot even remember asking her how she felt both physically and mentally. In my mind I had already made assumptions and thought that her lack of sleep, panic attacks and unexpected moments of dizziness were caused by general stress due to workload and raising three children. Looking back, I wish we had learnt about the menopause at school or in the workplace. Training and education about this topic may have encouraged me to support loved ones and colleagues appropriately. One thing I have learnt recently is that we shouldn’t make assumptions about someone’s health condition. If we have concerns about someone’s wellbeing or performance, we should ask them open questions such as ‘How are you doing?’.  

The above got me thinking about the menopause and I decided to find out if there were many people like myself… people who have little awareness about what it is and how it impacts women. 

So, what is it?

It’s a natural stage which normally takes place between age 45 and 55. A woman’s oestrogen levels decline, and her periods will usually stop. It is the transition period and can last for several years. 

When googling ‘The Menopause’ there was a lot of information online and it was very easy to find some of the common symptoms women can suffer from. The list was never ending and included psychological issues such as anxiety and depression as well as sleep disturbances, night sweats, headaches, hot flushes, and muscle pains. I decided perhaps it was a good time to ask someone about their symptoms and how they felt when they experienced the menopause first-hand. 

I interviewed my Mother-in-Law who was extremely excited to be talking about the menopause because she said it is rarely talked about yet made such a massive impact on her day to day life, especially at work. She mentioned that it felt like she was dragging her entire body around, she suffered from brain fog and even thought for a short time she was losing her memory. After speaking to her she went on to ask her friends about how they had felt, and they similarly were excited to be sharing their experiences as their lives had been impacted by the menopause. A few of these women mentioned that they had serious issues with bladder control and sometimes felt incredibly confused for short periods of time in the day.

I asked my mother-in-law whether she was supported in the workplace and did she tell anyone what she was going through. Like many women she was worried that her symptoms would not be taken seriously as she worked in a masculine environment. Additionally, she didn’t really want her symptoms to be widely known at work. This really shocked me and all I kept thinking was about how many women were going through this whilst at work and whether they were supported? 

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 says an employer must, where reasonably practical, ensure health, safety, and welfare at work. There are recommendations about working conditionals for menopausal women created by European Menopause and Andropause Society (EMAS).

Raise Awareness 

Allow disclosure of troublesome symptoms

Review control over workplace temperature 

Reduce work-related stress

Allow flexible working arrangements 

Access to drinking water

Access to toilets

The above recommendations provide simple steps a line manager could take to improve the wellbeing support for menopausal women in the workplace. The common issue is lack of training for employees and managers; therefore, awareness needs to be raised. Kent-Teach delivered a survey in May 2020 asking education professionals if they had received any menopause awareness training within school settings. A shocking 683 people (93%) said no to workplace guidance and 461 (63%) said they would like to understand how menopause symptoms can impact performance at work. 

With these statistics in mind, we decided to create a virtual CPD training workshop for schools delivered by Cantium Business Solutions where employees were able to increase awareness on the symptoms of the menopause and gain skills to ensure that staff wellbeing is at the heart of their workplace culture.

Building relationships based on trust and empathy makes it easier for an employee to feel comfortable about raising a health issue. Simple changes to someone’s working environment can also help ensure the menopause does not become a barrier.

If you work within a school setting and are interested in our virtual training course please get in touch via email at Kent-Teach@Cantium.Solutions or book yourself onto the course here

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