‘In celebration of menopause month…’ – A guest blog by Heather Sanders
Heather Sanders is Group Quality Manager for Green Light and a Counsellor at her practice Carbis Bay Counselling
I really did say ‘in celebration of menopause month’… I can imagine there are a few of my fellow women laughing hysterically right now! What is to celebrate about menopause? Well quite a lot really. The dreaded ‘change’ used to be something better not discussed; shrouded in embarrassment and lest I say it, ‘shame’, at the end of our reproductive usefulness. Throughout my own childhood/adolescence, I can’t ever remember hearing a single thing about menopause. I can, however, remember seeing my own mum suffer silently with what I now recognise as symptoms of perimenopause, or the time in the run up to menopause. Inevitably this transition happens to all women and importantly impacts both men and women in one way or another. Statistics suggest a staggering 60% of divorce proceedings are initiated by women in their 40’s, 50’s or 60’s – the menopause years.
So why celebrate? Number one, there is now much more awareness and recognition of how the menopause can impact women, both in their personal lives and in the workplace. With increased exposure from celebrities such as Davina McCall, in her recent television programme, ‘Sex, Myths and the Menopause’, women are feeling increasingly empowered to talk about how the menopause is impacting their lives and to ask GP’s to support them with different treatment options.
There is another way of looking at the period surrounding the transition to the menopause; it can be a time of reflection on what has gone before, where we are currently and what dreams and aspirations are still before us. It may be the end of one period of a woman’s life but it also heralds the beginning of another, full of opportunities and potential adventures unfettered by child-rearing and domestic responsibilities.
What about the need to continue to work throughout a period when women can experience some unwelcome side-effects of perimenopause? According to research by the Wellbeing of Women group, 900 000 women have had to leave their jobs due to more significant perimenopause symptoms, such as anxiety, poor concentration and irregular and heavy bleeding, which can make normal work routines more challenging. Menopausal women are the fastest growing demographic in the workplace. According to the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, almost 8 out of 10 menopausal women continue to work. While it is not inevitable that all women are negatively impacted by symptoms associated with the menopause and some women may well sail through this period with barely a symptom, nonetheless there must be a better recognition of the symptoms women can experience and appropriate support made available. A supportive workplace culture where all employees can reach out to their managers for support, when and if they need it, including during the menopause is important. The ‘Menopause Workplace Pledge’ campaign was launched on 4 October 2021, asking employers to take positive steps in offering employee’s support. This pledge shows a commitment by employers to recognise that the menopause can be an issue in the workplace and women need support, to be able to talk openly, positively and respectfully about the menopause and that employers should actively seek to support and inform employees affected by the menopause.
There are also a significant number of sources of information and resources available to support with the menopause. To coincide with Menopause Month, Dr. Louise Newsom, Founder of the Menopause Charity a leading light in all things menopause has launched an excellent app called Balance. Well worth a read.
I encourage all my female colleagues at Green Light to pick up the torch thrown down by Davina McCall – ask for support if you need it and never be embarrassed to do so. And to all my male colleagues, be mindful, supportive and happy to open a window or two when required!
Group Quality Manager