Menopause Awareness

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“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”

Howard Zinn

I am acutely aware that as a white, privileged, middle aged man there are some things I just cannot experience first-hand. Of course I can show compassion and empathy but I cannot truly or fully appreciate others life experiences. What I can do however, is act with humility and kindness and I can educate myself.

Sadly there are clearly still a number of areas in the world were we have a long a way to go when it comes to humility and kindness, which simply shouldn’t be the case. The Black Live Matters and the MeToo movements both brilliantly put up a mirror and reflected a very ugly picture back at us. Another area where I think this is true, very naturally impacts 50% of us, yet it is still somewhat of a taboo subject, it is still something people don’t know how to talk about and it still something that many people suffer in silence about, I am talking about the menopause.  

The menopause is clearly a normal part of ageing for women. Most women will expect to go through the menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, it usually lasts about 4 – 7 years but can last for up to 14.   The perimenopause is the phase leading up to menopause when a women’s hormone balance starts to change, this is when symptoms can start but they continue to have periods. Woman are said to have reached the menopause when they haven’t had a period for a year. Whilst the average age of undergoing the menopause is 51, 1 in 100 women can experience it before they are 40, this is known as premature menopause.  

The impact can be massive with the reduced hormone or oestrogen levels leading to a range of symptoms from mental health ones: mood changes, anxiety, low self-esteem, memory issues to physical ones: hot flushes, difficulty sleeping, sweating, palpitations, head and muscle aches, urinary tract infections to changes in body shape, weight gain, dry skin and reduced sex drive.

A huge 9 out of 10 women say the menopause has affected them at work from brain fog, tiredness, lack of energy or loss of confidence. And whilst there are things woman who are suffering can do to ease their symptoms including regulating what they eat and drink, vitamin supplements, exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy this shouldn’t just be their issue to manage and suffer in silence. As managers, partners, colleagues, children or friends there are things we can do too.  

We can be become more aware and look out for symptoms, we can listen, we can support, building trust so people feel they can talk about what they are experiencing,  we can have an open dialog without making it awkward (remember this affects 50% of us directly and other 50% of us indirectly), we can be patient and understanding,  we can check in regularly, we can remove the taboo and put people at ease, make people aware they are not alone, this isn’t something that they need to hide from their colleagues or partners or feel isn’t anyone else’s problem. This wouldn’t be case with anything else. If need be we can make adjustments – it may only be a little thing like providing a fan that can make difference,

As is normally the case for us our online Menopause awareness course is evolved around a story – in this case involving Tracey and Dave and the impact Traceys menopause has on her work, her home life, her love life and her confidence. It also looks at the impact Dave can have if he is more supportive and understanding. Whether you are a partner, a manager, a colleague or a child there are things we can do to support people going through this inevitable phase in their life. A little awareness is perhaps the start.