Menopausal women face multiple symptoms not fully appreciated in the workplace. With education, greater productivity and quality of life are achievable.
Our employers are doing little to mitigate the problems that arise due to menopausal health issues
Women are definitely a permanent part of the workforce. In 2010, there were 123 million working women representing 58.6% of the total US labor force.
We all know the reasons why so many of us are working. We enjoy being productive and making our contributions. There’s also the classic pocketbook considerations we all have because of the need to support our families and ourselves, as well as the need to receive health benefits.
Seventy five percent of women are working full time and 25% are working part time. Women are juggling family responsibilities and they’re also dealing with a whirlwind of changes that are associated with menopause. What a challenge!!!
“You’ve come a long way baby” is the recurring slogan for the baby boomer generation of women. These are the women born between the years of 1945-1964. They are entering menopause at a rate of 6,000 per day in the US. Yes, there’s no doubt that we’ve Working Through Menopause Menopausal women face multiple symptoms not fully appreciated in the workplace. With education, greater productivity and quality of life are achievable. Karen Giblin, President Red Hot Mamas www.redhotmamas.org My Menopause Workplace come a long way in our careers, but not in the way we are tackling how we deal with menopausal symptoms in the workplace. And our employers are doing little to mitigate the problems that arise due to menopausal health issues.
Let’s begin by taking some of the mystery out of menopause and get our feet wet with some simple basic facts about menopause. Menopausal symptoms oftentimes start as women enter perimenopause (which typically begins between the ages of 38-48). By the way, these symptoms sometimes continue through their postmenopausal years, although there are treatments and lifestyle changes available to help lessen them.
Typical symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, irregular periods, insomnia, fatigue, memory lapses, mood swings, irritability, and urogenital changes, just to name a few.
Most of corporate America lacks information about menopause and would be wise to address the impact that menopause has on their female employees.
If they understood and addressed the drastic impact that menopause can have on the quality of her life, it would go a long way to improving work performance and work reliability.
To better understand and deal with these changes, we must recognize the fact that there are many working women who prefer to never mention the “M” word in the workplace. They opt to keep a veil of secrecy surrounding their menopausal experience, even though they may be highly symptomatic during working hours.
Some women go to extreme measures to hide their symptoms. For some, openly talking about menopausal symptoms is tremendously embarrassing for fear of negative comments and/or ridicule associated with symptoms. And, they are also concerned about receiving criticism if they take sick days or a sick leave due to symptoms. Many have encountered difficulties about bringing up the “taboo” subject of menopause at work. Communication barriers still exist, causing silence around the subject of menopause.
I’ve personally had my “can I get any hotter” stories which have caused me to become embarrassed while working as my body temperature began to rise, causing me to flush and perspire. Certainly, I know that I don’t have to work out at a gym to break out in a sweat. All of this can be quite embarrassing if you are working and you feel a flash coming on.
I dress in layers, peel off the layers and run to the ladies room stripping down to the unmentionables, removing more and more clothing. I do know that I am not the only woman with a body temperature that soars without warning. It’s time to determine what the proper etiquette should be when symptoms erupt during business meetings and you want to hijack the air-conditioning unit.
There may be a connection between certain working conditions and the heightening of menopausal symptoms, which render work life quite difficult for a woman going through the menopause transition.
Working conditions that may aggravate menopausal symptoms include:
- Workplaces with poorventilation
- No thermostat to lower a high temperature
- Confined spaces
- Stressful environments
- High work demands
- Long hours without rest breaks or flexibility
- Restrooms that are far away
For some, openly talking about menopausal symptoms is tremendously embarrassing for fear of negative comments and/or ridicule
All contribute to increasing menopause-related problems in the workplace. Although improving or solving all these workplace factors may not be simple or may require an investment, it is important to remember that being sensitive, listening to complaints and agreeing on some accommodations may allow the menopausal woman to better control her symptoms and decrease the risk of absenteeism or loss of focus and provide the employer with a satisfied, highly productive employee.[/pullquote]Many employers may appear unsympathetic simply because they lack knowledge and training in how to provide support and understanding to the menopausal woman[/pullquote]
Red Hot Mamas is breaking the silence about menopause at work and the sometimes bewildering challenges women face as they go through the menopause transition. Many employers lack information about menopause and how to deal with a woman within their company who is having a difficult time in the workplace due to menopausal symptoms.
Many employers may appear unsympathetic simply because they lack knowledge and training in how to provide support and understanding to the menopausal woman.
The Red Hot Mamas organization recommends that companies train their managers and provide support and education for their employees about menopause:
- What to expect at menopause
- How to manage its course
- How to get help and advice
- How to improve or modify working conditions
- How to interact with managers about personal health information
This will enhance a women’s quality of life, as well as increase her productivity at work. And, for all of you Red Hot Mamas out there, there are some things that you can personally do:
- Eat a balanced diet
- Get regular exercise
- Practice relaxation techniques (deep breathing and meditation)
- Talk with your health care provider about symptom relief
A great resource to read is Eat To Defeat Menopause, which is the “essential nutrition guide for a healthy midlife.” Log onto http://www.redhotmamas.org for more information on this book. Attend our “free” Red Hot Mamas Menopause Education Programs in hospitals in US and Canada. Join Red Hot Mamas and receive our free monthly newsletter, “The Menopause Minute.” And, contact Red Hot Mamas if you feel your employer would benefit from a menopause corporate wellness program.