Health & Wellbeing

Breaking the hormonal glass ceiling

Menopause can be rough. Very few of us go through it unscathed.
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Got a health question? New Idea columnist Dr Ginni Mansberg has the answer, and this week she is talking about how to deal with menopause while juggling the delicate balance between work and life.

Aches, pains, hot flushes – the list goes on. Perimneopause (the lead up to menopause proper which is 12 months since the last period) is the peak time for mental health issues like anxiety and depression, with one in three women hitting a mood issue at this life stage. Brain fog can affect up to 80 per cent of us. Insomnia is three times as common for perimenopausal women as for women at other life stages. Plus, there are all of the symptoms that happen below the belt. One in 3 of us get horrific periods in the lead up to menopause. Our bladders often let us down at the most inconvenient times.

Given that women in midlife- the peak peri- and menopausal age groups are the fastest growing group in the workforce, his hormonal transition is having an impact on workplaces. And it’s bigger than you might think!

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Suffering in silence

A recent UK study found that 40 per cent of women feels that peri and menopause symptoms negatively affected their performance at work. One in 4 women needs to take time off during their peri years for a peri or menopause problem, but only one in three of these women reveals the true reason. A staggering 10% of women leave the workforce altogether because of their symptoms. And 14% go part time or reduce their hours and 8% sidestep a promotion. Those who stay often suffer a crisis in confidence and feel their productivity takes a dive.

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Making a change

So what can businesses do?

  1. Talk about it!

Dutch research showed that just running a menopause awareness course in the workplace, like my very own Don’t Sweat It, improves satisfaction, intention to stay at work, performance. I don’t mean shoving all the women with menopause symptoms in a red room of shame and delivering information to them alone. I mean talking about it to the team – just like we do for mental health.

  1. Simple solutions.

A more flexible uniform policy, stocking sanitary products in the bathrooms and setting air conditioning at a better temperature can help.

  1. Invest in women in their fourties, fifties and sixties.

I see countless organisations pour money into developing women leaders in their thirties. This is GREAT but all that ambition hits the floor as a woman starts getting brain fog and feeling like she can’t cope at work.

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