By Haley White, Founder of Menospace

Menopause is a universal experience for women, but no two menopause stories are the same. 

Its impact can vary widely due to ethnicity, cultural differences, neurodivergence, LGBTQ+ identity, and disabilities. Understanding these nuances is key to creating a supportive and inclusive work environment.

Ethnicity and cultural differences

Menopause experiences can differ significantly across ethnic and cultural lines. Research¹ indicates that women of different ethnic backgrounds report varying symptoms and attitudes towards menopause. For instance, African American women often experience more intense vasomotor symptoms (such as hot flashes and night sweats) than their Caucasian counterparts. Meanwhile, Asian women may report fewer of these symptoms but, might experience other issues like bone density loss at higher rates².

Cultural attitudes also play a significant role. In some cultures, menopause is seen as a positive transition, while in others, it may carry a stigma. Employers should be aware of these differences and encourage open, respectful discussions about menopause in the workplace. Providing culturally sensitive resources and support can help all employees feel understood and valued. 

Neurodivergence

Neurodivergent individuals, such as those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), mental health conditions, anxiety disorder, and other neurological conditions, may also face unique challenges when experiencing menopause. For example, hormonal changes can exacerbate symptoms of neurodivergence, such as difficulties with executive functioning, sensory sensitivities, and emotional regulation³.

Workplaces can support neurodivergent individuals by offering flexible working arrangements, providing clear communication and instructions, and ensuring access to mental health resources. Educating all employees about neurodiversity and menopause can foster a more inclusive environment where everyone’s needs are considered.

Menopause and the LGBTQ+ Community

The most significant issues facing the LGBTQ+ community regarding menopause are experienced by trans individuals. Any person who produces oestrogen and progesterone may be impacted by declining hormone levels, including transgender men and non-binary people, amongst others.

The menopause can trigger body dysmorphia, anxiety and depression and this may compound any distress or discomfort caused by gender dysphoria4 .

This is not universal, and all menopausal people should be listened to as individuals.

Inclusive menopause policies should recognise these diverse experiences. This includes using gender-neutral language where appropriate and ensuring that healthcare benefits cover the needs of all employees, regardless of their gender identity. Creating an open, supportive environment where employees feel safe discussing their experiences is crucial.

Disabilities

Women with disabilities may encounter additional challenges during menopause. Physical disabilities can complicate the management of menopausal symptoms, while cognitive disabilities might make it harder to communicate needs or access information about menopause5.

Employers should consider accessibility when designing menopause-related resources and support systems. This might involve providing materials in various formats (e.g., braille, large print, or digital), ensuring that workplaces are physically accessible, and offering reasonable accommodations to help manage symptoms.

Intersectionality

It is important when understanding the challenges facing any particular woman that all her characteristics and attributes are considered. Everyone has more than one identity and so when considering what the needs are for someone experiencing menopause we should at least have an intersectional approach, considering all of their characteristics.

Building an inclusive workplace

To support all employees through menopause, organisations can implement several strategies:

Education and training: Conduct regular training sessions to educate managers and staff about menopause and its diverse impacts. This can help reduce stigma and create a more supportive work environment.

Flexible policies: Implement flexible working hours and remote work options to accommodate employees experiencing severe symptoms.

Inclusive health benefits: Ensure that health insurance plans cover menopause-related treatments and support for all employees, including those with neurodivergence, disabilities, and diverse gender identities.

Open dialogue: Encourage open conversations about menopause. Employee resource groups (ERGs) and support groups can provide platforms for sharing experiences and advice.

Personalised support: Probably the most important point, is to recognise that menopause affects everyone differently. Personalised support plans need to be put in place to help address the unique needs of every employee who needs support.

Next steps

To arrange a free consultation on how you can support your staff through menopause, email: [email protected]


About the author

Haley White is a trainer, facilitator and founder of Menospace. With a degree in Business Psychology and an MSc in Organisational Psychology, and having run a wellbeing centre in Greece, Haley is well placed to support organisations to become happier and more productive places to be.

In 2021, Haley discovered she was perimenopausal and like a lot of women, didn’t know what this meant. Through her exploration, she discovered there are over 6.5 million menopausal women in the UK workforce, and a staggering 900,000 of them have left their jobs due to inadequate support.

Haley realised that something needed to be done so she created Menospace, a menopause training and consultancy organisation. Haley is on a mission to normalise the conversations around menopause at work.

Some of the organisations Haley has worked with include NHS, Colt Technology, Wates Construction, Cardiff University, Thames Water, Wikimedia Foundation and Cabinet Office.

Outside of work, Haley loves dog walking, strength training, reading books, socialising and travelling with her friends, family and partner.


Footnote references

  1. Woods, N. F., & Mitchell, E. S. (2005). Symptoms during the perimenopause: Prevalence, severity, trajectory, and significance in women’s lives. American Journal of Medicine, 118(12), 14-24.
  2. Avis, N. E., Crawford, S. L., & Greendale, G. (2015). Duration of menopausal vasomotor symptoms over the menopause transition. JAMA Internal Medicine, 175(4), 531-539.
  3. Mason, S. M., et al. (2013). Posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms and distress during menopause. Menopause, 20(4), 426-434.
  4. Iorgulescu, R. I., & Iorgulescu, G. (2019). Menopause in transgender and non-binary individuals. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 16(3), 453-461.
  5. Hickey, M., et al. (2017). Management of menopause in women with disabilities: An overview. Menopause, 24(10), 1203-1212.

Pioneer 20 2024 - Top 20 refugee women in the EU

Upcoming Events

July

17jul17:3023:59Rising Star Awards Ceremony 2024

19julAll DayIsle of Wight Pride Launch Party 2024

23jul10:0012:30Fully Accredited | Menopause Awareness for Managers

24julAll Day25UnderOne Festival

24jul12:3013:15Menopause: Workplace challenges & solutions webinar

25jul19:0020:00The science of procrastination: Understanding and overcoming the delay Loop | Go To Yellow

Job Board Banner

Related Posts