As an employer, the Council is committed to ensuring the wellbeing of its employees and will look to provide information, support and assistance where it can to do this. Further, as an organisation with a significant number of female employees the Council has a responsibility to consider any potential wellbeing concerns specific to this group.
While the menopause is a natural part of all women’s lives, the effects are particular to each individual and for some this isn’t an easy transition. A failure to recognise and understand the potential effects of menopause can exacerbate the impact on the employee and hinder their ability to alleviate or cope with any symptoms they experience.
While some physical symptoms like hot flushes are well recognised and can be mitigated for by adjusting the physical environment, many other symptoms are not. A loss of personal confidence or lapses in concentration may not be as apparent or as well-known a symptom but these can have as much if not more of an impact on the employee facing them. These symptoms can be perceived by those experiencing them as having an adverse impact on their ability to perform their duties, even when this is not the case. Managers should make themselves aware of these symptoms and their potential impact on employees so that suitable support can be offered and provided.
The consequence of employees feeling unsupported in the workplace can be that of highly skilled and experienced employees not seeking career progression or even leaving employment due to their own self-perception rather than any actual inability to do the job.
A range of supporting information sources and answers to frequently asked questions is provided below with the aim to raise awareness of issues relating to the menopause, its treatment and how best to support affected employees. These should help enable a working environment where employees feel valued and continue their employment with the Council.
- The medical definition of the menopause is when a woman has her last period.
- The time around the menopause.
- The menopause is caused by a change in the balance of the body’s sex hormones, which occurs as you get older.
- It happens when your ovaries stop producing as much of the hormone oestrogen and no longer release an egg each month.
- No, surveys have found that between 5% and 50% of women experience significant issues with the menopause.
- The average age of menopause is 51, however it can typically occur between the ages of 45 and 58.
- hot flushes– short, sudden feelings of heat, usually in the face, neck and chest, which can make your skin red and sweaty
- night sweats– hot flushes that occur at night
- difficulty sleeping– this may make you feel tired and irritable during the day
- a reduced sex drive (libido)
- problems with memory and concentration
- vaginal drynessand pain, itching or discomfort during sex
- mood changes, such as low moodor anxiety
- palpitations– heartbeats that suddenly become more noticeable
- joint stiffness, aches and pains
- reduced muscle mass
- recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs), such as cystitis
The menopause can also increase your risk of developing certain other problems, such as weak bones (osteoporosis).
- What support can be offered by an employer to help alleviate these symptoms?
- Workplace adjustments such as –
- temperature control,
- flexible working,
- relaxed uniform standards,
- available cold water,
- consideration for provision of facilities,
- access to a private area,
- An open communications policy with members of staff,
- Occupational Health advice.
- Workplace adjustments such as –
- What measures can an employee take to help alleviate the symptoms of the menopause?
- See your GP for advice on available treatment options.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy can be utilised by some.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
- Consider lifestyle changes such as weight reduction, smoking cessation and exercise.
- Discuss your practical needs with your line manager, HR or another manager you feel comfortable talking to.
- What support is there for Council employees going through the menopause?