Article by Kathy England, Menopause Network Lead, at Experian
But this should not be the case. Regardless of gender or age, we should all be doing more to understand it, especially if you work closely with others who may be affected.
Going through menopause doesn’t just have a significant impact on personal life, but also working life too, particularly given the stresses and strains of a busy workplace.
I started going through menopause about seven years ago. However, it took a little while for me to realise it was causing an issue at work. I have always been comfortable and confident in my ability, but menopause changed all that for me. I started thinking I was useless and lost confidence in my ability to carry out even the simplest of tasks, never mind my actual job role.
It got so bad for me that I couldn’t even hold a proper conversation or remember what I had been doing without having a panic attack or wanting to hide.
I am lucky in a way, as after speaking to my manager it was agreed that I could work flexible hours and from home as much as I needed. This was perfect, as I didn’t know how I’d be feeling from one day to the next. Not only did it help me to manage my workload, but also my paranoia. I also managed to see a private menopause specialist who provided the support, guidance, and treatment to enable me to return to my full of life, normal, self again.
Going through this experience hasn’t been easy for me. But I am not alone. Research estimates that there are around 13 million women who are currently peri or menopausal in the UK (Wellbeing of Women) – that’s equal to one third of the entire UK female population. Whilst a minority of women will experience little or no menopausal symptoms, a significant number will experience debilitating symptoms that can last up to 15 years. It’s not uncommon for many of these women to suffer in silence, as their employers don’t have the correct policies and procedures in place to support them.
Menopause is not just a female issue, it’s an organisational issue too. Awareness on this topic is fundamental and reducing the stigma attached to it is vital so that more people will talk openly about it. Even just a few adjustments at work could make a huge difference. Here are some to consider:
Kathy England is a Service Request Manager at Experian, as well as leader of the company’s UK Menopause network. She was instrumental in the creation of the network in 2019 to encourage and support anyone impacted by this natural process. The aim is to remove the taboo label, be able to speak freely without fear of judgement and feel totally supported in the workplace.