CEO, Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace
Most people will reach menopause between the ages of 45 and 55 — but some will experience it far younger.
Early menopause, by definition, is when a woman’s periods stop before the age of 45. It can happen naturally or as the result of medical treatments or interventions including having a hysterectomy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, autoimmune disease and, occasionally, a genetic disorder.
Early menopause awareness for all
The taboo around menopause is being successfully tackled, but for younger people, the awareness is not yet there. Facing menopause at a younger age can be emotionally and physically challenging, and extra support is often needed. Furthermore, the unexpected element of early menopause can make it harder for people to talk about with family, friends and colleagues.
Familiar symptoms of early menopause
As with mid-life menopause, one of the first signs of early menopause can be when periods become less frequent or stop for no obvious reason. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing this under 45, it’s important to consult a GP.
Employers must stay alert to all colleagues working through menopause — whatever their age or career stage.
Early menopause presents the same familiar symptoms — typically, hot flushes, headaches, anxiety, low mood, ‘brain fog,’ fatigue and loss of confidence. Younger women experiencing these need just as much understanding, empathy and flexibility at work as their older colleagues to help them navigate this stage of their life.
Workplace support for all ages and stages
Employers must stay alert to all colleagues working through menopause — whatever their age or career stage. Expert talks, training and an active workplace menopause policy will raise awareness and build a culture of empathy which, in turn, will bring respite and relief to those affected by menopause, whatever their age.
Small changes in the work environment can help
Making small and reasonable workplace adjustments can help those working through their menopause. These options should be made available to everyone who could benefit from them.
Enabling people to position their desks away from heat sources; scheduling regular breaks in meetings; giving access to cool, fresh water; providing a desk fan; sanctioning flexible work hours; and allowing time out somewhere quiet will all help. For many, just knowing such options are available will ease anxiety and worry.
Women of all ages and stages of their career and life should feel psychologically safe, supported and understood, including the time when they find themselves managing their menopause — whenever that may happen.