Coping with Menopausal Symptoms in the Work Place
Today I read that Nottinghamshire Police Force has plans to introduce a crying room for women who are going through the menopause. This is an attempt to help women deal with their menopausal symptoms.
This has been introduced by the former Chief Constable Sue Fish, who noticed that women were leaving from the pressures of carrying out their duties which whilst suffering from symptoms of the menopause.
Sue Fish, now retired from the force said “It was just a waste of talent. Bringing in a policy was absolutely the right thing to do.”
Menopause Manager’s Guide
In 2017 Detective Constable Keeley Mansell wrote ‘Menopause Manager’s Guide‘ which states:
This guide is intended to make managers aware of menopause related issues and how they can affect their staff. The Menopause Manager’s Guide provides a framework of guidance on how we may deal with menopause-related issues, either for individuals experiencing this natural stage of life condition or those who are perhaps affected indirectly, for example, line managers, partners (including same-sex partners) and colleagues.
This guide goes some way to explain the condition, symptoms and suggestions of support in the workplace for menopausal women. After reading this guide I felt it was a good starting point, but has some way to go.
The Crying Room
The new guidelines state that “private areas/spaces” must be made available for “women to rest/recover/make a telephone call to personal or professional support.”
It adds: “Women going through the menopause may need to manage the impact of symptoms, a private space to rest temporarily, cry or talk with a colleague before they can return to their workspace.”
Now, this goes to assume that the workmates a) Have enough time to also spend time in this suggested “crying room” and b) that the menopausal woman would like to share with others.
Having lived in 11+ years in peri-menopausal hell, some days I want to shut myself away from the world and the last thing I want to do is share with a work colleague. In fact, the impact of the menopause pushed me towards leaving my full-time job of 12 years.
Here is a list of some of the symptoms:
- Changing or irregular periods
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Anxiety, mood swings, irritability and depression
- Loss of confidence, feelings of being invisible
- Changes in libido or sex drive
- Weight gain
- Dry skin
- Vaginal dryness
- Increased PMS
- Urinary leakage or urgency
- Aches and pains in muscles and joints
And there’s more!
What this list doesn’t include is the stress of the symptoms and changes that have on your mental wellbeing. The impact of the symptoms on your day-to-day life can be utterly overwhelming, along with your relationships, which can suffer greatly without the correct support or understanding.
Spreading the Word vs Dismissive Attitudes
I have made the very hard decision, backed by my GP to not take up the offer of HRT due to my high risk of cancer. This decision obviously has made it tremendously hard to cope with the symptoms. However, I am now coping. Just.
I am so delighted to hear the media spreading the word about the menopause and it’s symptoms. Also, is a relief to know that workplaces are beginning to understand and make changes accordingly.
The focus in this plan is very much on ‘temperature’ with the offer of being seated next to a window, in control of the thermostat or having a fan with the addition to change in clothing and materials used in uniforms. (I’m sure the rest of the workforce in the room will be thrilled with the cold air ventilating the room!)
However, there are a HUGE number of side effects that come hand in hand with the menopause, and this may be helpful to some, possible we need to think a little more out of the box to support all menopausal women.
The guide also recommends one-to-one fitness tests if female officers are suffering from “low self-esteem” and permission to dispense with body armour if it proves uncomfortable.
This is all progress in the right direction. So well done to Nottinghamshire Police for attempting to lead the way, I applaud you!
Pull Yourself Together!
However, I was pretty appalled by Sam Taylor, editor of The Lady magazine, who told the Daily Mail:
“The police are being indulgent. By the time a woman hits her mid-40s, she really should be able to pull herself together when she’s having a hot flush.
“I work in a magazine full of middle-aged women and if they feel a bit overwrought, they go home after work and have a stiff gin and tonic or mainline chocolate Hobnobs and sweet tea.”
I would question Ms Taylor regarding her brash statement which is disgusting from a leading and highly thought of magazine.
I’m now in Year 12 of suffering the ever-increasing side effects of the menopause. It’s been hell. If you’re lucky enough to go through this time, with little or no problem, be grateful. As there are many of us that find it unbearable.
Those that haven’t entered this torture yet. Brace yourself and think about others that are suffering in silence. I’m 48 and my symptoms started at 36 with ever increasing force. It’s not fun and should be taken seriously.
Unless you have been through the menopause you can never know what havoc it causes in your life or the lives of your family, friends and colleagues that may be suffering. Be kind. Be patient. Gain knowledge about the subject of Menopause. Everyone is different on this menopausal journey.
Do let me know if you have experience of the menopause.