27 February 2017

How To Breeze Through Menopause At Work

By Hannah Charman

If you'll excuse the pun, this is a 'hot' topic at the moment, so I thought I'd write about what we can do help our ladies through menopause at work. There are currently around 3.5 million ladies over 50 in our workforce, so if you work with women this will affect you.

Unison have done a great job at raising awareness of the problems women can have with menopause at work, a main one is lack of sleep due to night sweats. Night sweats mean a serious lack of sleep, which in turn leads to irritability, poor concentration, and everything else we can do without at work. But that's not all, for many of my patients menopause at work has meant leaving embarrassing stains on seats more than once, and needless to say, self confidence has taken a knock as a result. Other menopausal delights can include panic attacks, urinary incontinence, palpitations, hot flushes, memory loss, and dry skin, making life a misery for tens of thousands of women. Women in high ranking positions can find menopause especially difficult and will rarely inform colleagues that they're struggling. But actually menopause needn't cause us so much trouble and there's a lot we can do to help women breeze through it.

How Can We Support Women Through Menopause At Work?

Keeping fans in the office, using breathable fabrics to make uniforms and allowing ladies access to cool drinking water are all great. The only thing is, they're only helping during work hours, and they're not really addressing the cause of the problem. What else can we do?

HRT is one option. Some women take it for years without any problem but many don't, and there are lots of safety and ethical concerns around using it. Having seen what can be achieved with herbal treatment time and time again, I'd suggest leaving HRT as a last resort. Herbal Medicines are much safer and effective to the point where some GP's are now suggesting their menopausal patients see a Medical Herbalist. There are many reasons behind why so many women suffer with what is, after all, a natural milestone in their lives, and a Medical Herbalist will aim to unpick those reasons in each individual patient before prescribing the herbs. One patient of mine recently cancelled the hysterectomy that she was booked in for as the herbs worked so quickly for her. The surgery would have meant considerable time off work as well as her having to cope with a young family whilst she recovered. What suits one person will not work for another, so simply making female employees aware of herbal medicine as an option would be a help. Perhaps you could even invite your local Medical Herbalist to do some drop in sessions at your workplace one day.

If you have enough delegates, a 'Healthy Aging For Women' workshop could work well, teaching women how to care for themselves not only through menopause but prevent other health issues as well. Of course, we should counterbalance it with one for the men too - I'll write about manopause another day!

Here are a few more ideas for you:

  • If you have any spare rooms, keep one a bit cooler and quieter as a bolt hole during hot flushes or anxiety attacks.
  • Put together a menopause toolkit outlining what support is available both in and outside work.
  • Nurture peer support. Encourage women in similar age groups to work, volunteer, or socialise together.
  • Make herbal teas available as well as the usual tea & coffee. Fennel is very inexpensive and has a mildly oestrogenic effect which can be helpful during menopause. Other calming, energising or uplifting blends can be used as needed too.
  • If you have catering onsite, ask them to offer healthy 'hormone friendly' meal options including oily fish, fermented soy such as miso soup, and plenty of fresh vegetables.
  • Encourage daily walks during lunch breaks.

Visit http://www.physichealth.uk if you would like to learn more about supporting your colleagues through menopause.

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