The women who companies work hard to attract, retain & promote will all go through (often at the height of their career) menopause. The lack of support, lack of education and stigma surrounding menopause can be particularly stressful and has a direct impact on every day working lives and therefore ultimately companies.
First let's get the meaning of menopause and perimenopause clear and correct :
Menopause is when a woman's periods stop, this normally happens between the ages of 45 and 55, but it can happen earlier. It affects anyone who has periods. It signals the end of the reproductive years and the start of a new phase of life.
Menopause doesn't just happen from one day to the next. Perimenopause is the transition period from fertile phase of life to infertile, post menopause and it varies person to person. This transition period is on average 4 - 6 years but can last 10 years according to a recent report by Clue App.
75% of women going through perimenopause / menopause experience the symptoms and 25% of them describe severe symptoms.
The statistics above highlight how important it is for employers to address perimenopause and menopause in the workplace as part of any health and wellbeing policy. Management and employees need be educated on the subject and learn how to support each other to ensure the workplace is fit for purpose to the benefit of all stakeholders.
Why are we, Organic Mondays a company who helps organisations implement Period Dignity (period care) talking about Perimenopause?
A company Menopause policy is key to ensuring female employees are supported to perform at their best where ever they are in their menstrual life cycle. A part of any corporate employee health and wellbeing policy should be to provide period products to employees in the workplace bathrooms.
In the lead-up to menopause, so-called perimenopause, women don't just experience amongst other symtoms the dreaded 'brain fog' (when you have to write down your own birthdate otherwise you'll forget it) and dry skin, dry EVERYTHING actually - many women also experience over a number of years noticeably heavier, irregular and unpredictable periods 🩸
Support women in perimenopause with period products in the bathroom
Irregular & Unpredictable Periods:
This is an extremely important time to have period products made available in the bathroom (just like toilet paper) because it is impossible for many perimenopausal women to know when her periods will come during this transition phase. According to Clue's recent study of those women aged 45 and still menstruating, 1 in 3 reported menstrual irregularity. At the age of 52 about 1 in 10 of the women in this report were still menstruating.
Also if she experiences suddenly a much heavier period than she has been used to, she may need to change her pad or tampon more often than expected and not have the products with her.
A company providing pads and tampons in bathrooms just like toilet paper will make a huge positive difference to women going through peri-menopause, who are suffering through enough other difficult physical and emotional changes without the added stress of not having the menstrual products they need when they need them.
The impact of Perimenopause and Menopause on Careers
A September 2023 report by Carrot Fertility found that menopause significantly impacts women’s careers with 80% citing it as a workplace challenge. The report, titled ‘2023 Menopause in the Workplace’, highlights the evident stigma and ageism related to battling menopause in the workplace.
Invest in your women during this phase of life and benefit by retaining your top female talent for the best is yet to come!
How to Support Women going through Perimenopause / Menopause in the Workplace
To create an environment where women feel safe and supported they can thrive and bring their best to the company:
1. Educate and communicate menopause policy as part of a corporate wide health and well-being policy
2. Provide free period products in the bathrooms, just like toilet paper
3. Support and give a corporate platform to menopause champions and internal working groups to set up forums, offering opportunities for education and safe conversations
4. Managing health and absence in a fair and flexible way whilst educating line managers
Understanding Perimenopause and Menopause is a Sensitive Topic and Critical for Companies
Incorporating menopause into a menstrual health and wellness policy will certainly help their female employees feel more supported.
It's important to note that managing menopause at work can be a sensitive topic. Despite the huge impact of perimenopause and menopause, less than 20% of women had a high level of understanding of menopause before their symptoms began according the Carrot Fertility report.
Perimenopause is an all body change which combined with the lack of knowledge can mean many women feel overwhelmed and disorientated by this. In addition each woman going through perimenopause can experience a range of different symptoms to eachother, from hot flashes and night sweats to mood swings and fatigue. It's important for managers and colleagues to be understanding and empathetic during this time.
Overall, addressing menopause in the workplace is an important step towards creating a more inclusive and supportive work environment. By providing education and resources, companies can help their female employees navigate this challenging time with confidence and dignity.
More about Perimenopause and Menopause
Hormone levels change - specifically oestrogen, which controls the menstrual cycle. As women age, the ovaries produce fewer eggs, oestrogen levels fluctuate and gradually reduce, this leads to menopausal symptoms. This doesn't happen overnight though.
It can take several years for this crucial hormone to fall to low levels, where it stays, causing changes to the body along the way.
When the ovaries stop producing eggs altogether, pregnancy is no longer possible and the menopause happens.
It is only when periods haven't happened for 12 months, a woman can look back and say they've been through the menopause (the last period).
What are the Symptoms of the Menopause?
The menopause - and the years leading up to it - affect each and every woman in different ways. The brain, periods, skin, muscles and emotions are all affected by falling levels of oestrogen.
There are lots of possible symptoms and women can have some of them, all of them, or none - and for varied lengths of time.
The most common symptoms are:
- heavy or irregular bleeding
- hot flushes
- night sweats
- low mood
- vaginal dryness
- bladder problems
Poor memory and concentration, usually called brain fog, is also often mentioned (see our recent post about changes in the brain over the menstrual cycle), as are painful joints, dry skin and vagina.
Not all women get symptoms - but most do, around 75%. 25% of women suffer from severe symptoms that impact their working lives. Symptoms can lasts on average 7 years, with 1 in 3 women experiencing them for even longer.
Learn more about Menopause and Perimenopause
There are a number of amazing resources to educate yourself about perimenopause and menopause. Really encourage you take a look and encourage the people around you to learn more :