What Employers Should Know about Menopause
For many women experiencing menopause, managing stress can be challenging in their professional lives. Especially when employers and coworkers do not understand the symptoms that menopausal women experience. Understanding the health issues that women in perimenopause or menopause face can be a crucial tool in helping them achieve ultimate success in their work lives.
Mood swings are often the source of the most frustration for women going through menopause. Stressful situations can become anxiety-inducing for menopausal women. Extreme cases of panic attacks have been known to happen in a small percentage of women.
This lack of control over anxiety and stress results from a fluctuation in both estrogen and progesterone. The imbalance of these hormones triggers chemicals in the brain responsible for stress and depression. Depending on any previous mental health conditions, the severity of panic attacks and depressive episodes can range in between women.
So, how can employers and coworkers help relieve the burden that menopausal employees/coworkers face?
1) Understand that every woman experiences menopause differently
While some women may experience nothing more than hot flashes, night sweats, and the occasional bout of weeping at the sight of a cute puppy video, others may have more severe menopausal symptoms. Panic attacks, depressive episodes, and painful menstrual cycles during perimenopause may be present for these women.
It may be difficult to understand how these symptoms affect them in their daily lives, but employers can help relieve some of these symptoms. Providing them with small fans or easy access to sanitary products can help them better manage their menopausal transition. By eliminating some of these impediments, their focus can be redirected back to their work and help them achieve success.
2) Show courtesy without being condescending
One of the most cited issues that menopausal women experience in their professional lives is how their employers and coworkers treat them. Many women feel that some work colleagues harass them regarding their emotional state during menopause. They become frustrated and distracted, making it more challenging to focus on tasks.
It is incumbent upon employers to recognize when these kinds of behaviors occur and to listen to their female employees to better understand what they are experiencing. Remember, women going through menopause may be having difficulty dealing with their symptoms, but with enough support, they can find ways to develop coping mechanisms in their professional lives.
3) Remember that doctor's appointments might need to be made during the workweek
As women go through menopause, their bodies go through a series of changes that can negatively impact their health. Some women may have a difficult time determining which treatments and medications will work for them. As a result, they may need to visit their general care provider often for regular check-ups to see if their treatment is working.
Women who are going through hormone replacement therapy or surgical solutions may have to take more extended periods of time off to recover from specific procedures. It's vital to keep this in mind and know that the health of a menopausal woman comes first.
4) Insomnia happens more frequently for women going through menopause
If a female employee seems overly tired, unable to concentrate, or easily distracted, remember that women who go through menopause have higher rates of insomnia. Without at least eight hours of sleep, it can be difficult for menopausal women to focus on tasks. If an employer finds that a menopausal employee is having difficulty concentrating or staying awake, take them aside and ask them how their sleep schedule is. Check-in on them from time to time. Some days they may need to stay home to catch up on sleep, or they may need to take a quick cat nap during their lunch break. Just be aware that they are dealing with insomnia.
5) Offer help when it is appropriate
Women who are struggling with menopause may not feel comfortable enough to ask for help. Shame and embarrassment are often emotions that women experience during menopause. As their bodies change, their confidence shifts. Women going through menopause may feel more self-conscious. They may be less sure about whether or not they are performing as well in their professional lives as before.
Sometimes the most helpful thing an employer can do is simply ask how their employee is doing. Offering time off or offering assistance from others can help relieve some of the stresses and frustrations that they may experience. Be respectful of boundaries, and if they believe they can take on tasks on their own, give them complete confidence and support.
Success in the office is a two-way street. While an employer may take every precaution to ensure that their employee is thriving under such a strenuous time, women going through menopause must let their employers know the truth of their condition. There are three things to keep in mind to help cope with the difficulties of menopause during one's career.
1) Menopause can't be reversed
As much as it would help the professional lives of women 45 and older, menopause cannot be reversed or stopped. Getting to grips with this new reality can take time, but once accepted, determining coping mechanisms will become much easier in the future.
2) Personal health comes first
Both an employee and their employer must understand that personal health comes first. Menopause can have a number of negative impacts on the body. This means that doctor's appointments may have to become regular and interfere with the normal work schedule. Do not skip doctor's appointments or reschedule them for a better time, especially if treatments need monitoring. Understand that personal health is the most important.
3) Take time off to recover
Menopause can alter sleep patterns, hormones, and immune health. If, for any reason, a woman feels that her health is not at its best, it's essential to take enough time to recover. For some, it could be that they are experiencing multiple hot flashes throughout the day. Others, they may be experiencing severe cramps during perimenopause that prevent them from performing simple motions like sitting down and standing up. Remember, there is no shame in listening to your body. Taking time to recover and recuperate can help ease the transition.
Employers and employees need to understand the symptoms of menopause and the steps that come with monitoring it. Without this knowledge, it can be difficult for both parties to maintain their professional lives and achieve success.
To better understand how menopause affects the lives of women and their social interactions, these research studies may be beneficial to both employers and employees.