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WORLD MENOPAUSE DAY

Highlighting the support available for improving health and wellbeing for women experiencing menopause.

Middle age woman going through the menopause

IMPORTANCE OF THE WORLD MENOPAUSE DAY


Today is World Menopause Day - a global campaign run by the International Menopause Society to highlight issues associated with the menopause and ways of improving women's wellbeing. For some women the menopause can pass with no problems but for many others this time can be very unsettling with symptoms which are difficult to manage. Awareness around this topic is key to reducing the stigma attached to menopause and encouraging people to talk more openly about it.



WHAT IS THE MENOPAUSE?


Menopause is a natural part of a woman’s life cycle. It’s a time when the levels of oestrogen and progesterone decrease meaning that a woman stops having periods and her ovaries lose their reproductive function. Periods usually start to become less frequent over a few months or years before they stop altogether. Sometimes they can stop suddenly.


The menopause usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age. According to the NHS, in the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51. However, around 1 in 100 women experience the menopause before 40 years of age. This is known as premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency.


Most women experience symptoms of menopause which can begin months or even years before their periods stop and can last for years after. Common symptoms of menopause include:

  • Hot flushes

  • Night sweats

  • Insomnia

  • Palpitations

  • Joint aches

  • Headaches

  • Weight gain

  • Vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex

  • Reduced sex drive (libido)

  • Low mood, anxiety and mood swings

  • Problems with memory and concentration

Speak to a GP when you are struggling with symptoms or if you are experiencing them before you are 45 years old. My symptom checklist: can help you prepare for a discussion with your healthcare professional about the menopause.


See how other women are living with the menopause and manage their symptoms:


There are several treatments and lifestyle changes that can help ease symptoms, such as:

  • hormone replacement therapy (HRT) including tablets, implants, creams, and gels which replace oestrogen

  • vaginal moisturisers and lubricants to ease vaginal dryness

  • clonidine which is a non-hormonal medication that can help with hot flushes

  • exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy diet

  • stopping smoking and drinking less alcohol

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – a talking therapy that can help with anxiety and low mood.


To find out more about the menopause and to find answers for the most commonly asked questions, watch the video with Dr Heather Currie from the British Menopause Society:




FURTHER INFORMATION AND GETTING SUPPORT


Find more in-depth information about symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and self-management of the menopause:


There are menopause specialists who have experience in supporting anyone going through perimenopause and menopause. You can find your nearest NHS or private menopause specialist on the British Menopause Society website.


Charities offering information and support include:


menopause in the workplace


Menopausal woman in the workplace

Women can experience menopause symptoms that may be debilitating and have a significant impact on everyday activities including workplace participation. Many women may often find managing their menopause symptoms in the workplace very challenging, especially when they do not feel able to openly talk about the menopause with their line managers. But with around 13 million women who are currently perimenopausal or menopausal in the UK, it’s important now more than ever to be able to speak openly about menopause at work.


67% of women aged 40 to 60 in employment with experience of menopausal symptoms say they have had a mostly negative effect on them at work.


As an employer you should acknowledge the potential impact of the menopause on women and become aware of the simple steps you can take to be supportive:


  • Open up the culture and encourage conversations about menopause – provide information on menopause for both employees and managers to help break down the taboo.


  • Develop a supportive framework – this could include a specific menopause policy or guidance and support for those experiencing menopause transition. You should make clear what practical support is available, such flexible working, reasonable workplace adjustments, or health and wellbeing provisions (EAP, counselling, etc.)


  • Work with Occupational Health – Management Referral services can help managers understand how to manage health issues connected with someone’s menopause transition. The advice that OH can provide can be invaluable in helping managers to make tailored adjustments and support someone on an ongoing basis, particularly if symptoms are severe. OH can support women who are off sick with menopause symptoms to ensure they receive the support and adjustments needed for an effective return to work.


  • Educate and train line managers – this is an important part of managing menopause effectively and promoting a supportive culture. Line managers should have a broad understanding of how the menopause can affect women at work and be knowledgeable about organisational support available for those experiencing particular symptoms. They should also be trained in how to be approachable and to have sensitive one-to-one conversations.

There are lots of resources available that can help you understand more about the menopause and the support women experiencing menopausal symptoms in your workplace may need:


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