What women want when it comes to menopause and work
Menopause Symptoms can cause discomfort, tiredness and embarrassment for as many of the 3.5 million working women aged 50-65 in the UK. We look at what’s being done to improve things.
“Hot flushes and night sweats can affect quality of life for 20-25 per cent of women and they are harder to deal with at work,” says Professor Mary Ann Lumsden, a Senior Vice President at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and Trustee for the charity Wellbeing of Women.
“Severe insomnia is awful, and some working conditions can make symptoms worse.”
Positive measures already being worked on include flexible schedules, time off, desks by open windows or fans, and, vitally, better understanding through communication.
Wellbeing of Women is currently funding a study led by Professor Myra Hunter, King’s College London called Menopause@Work, it is creating “overwhelming” interest from women and employers, says Professor Lumsden. “This research has the potential to make a real difference to women's lives. We need solutions, and research evidence shows us what works and what doesn’t.”
“Pregnancy can be talked about openly in the workplace, but women in menopause often feel they can’t talk about their symptoms.”
Professor Lumsden has run discussions on menopause within companies and says it’s “great fun”. It gives the women a good opportunity to increase their understanding.
Male employees should definitely be invited to such events. “They’ll come and be interested –menopause is a perfectly natural phase, and men are involved through the women in their lives. Women need to be given the confidence and conditions to work through the different stages.”
She believes the way forward is for companies to be receptive and women to be aware and communicate.
“After all, what women want at menopause is to continue to achieve their best.”