Menopause

  • Menopause is defined as the single point in time when menstruation has ceased for 12 consecutive months.
  • The average age at which women reach the menopause is 51, but it normally ranges between 45 and 55.
  • The period of hormonal change lasts about 6 years.
  • It may be accompanied by the following symptoms: hot flushes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, fatigue, poor concentration and memory, weight gain, irritability, mood disturbances and skin dryness.
  • There is an increased risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
  • There may be a lowering of self-esteem which leads to poor psychological health.
  • 10-15% of women have severe symptoms.
  • Menopause occurs at a challenging time for many women – elder care, increasing job responsibility, chronic illness, teenage children, ‘empty nest’ syndrome.
  • The menopause often attracts stereotypical and largely negative responses and is not well understood.
  • Women are reluctant to disclose to colleagues.
  • The menopause is not an illness but changes in oestrogens levels can result in intermittent symptoms around this time which can be exacerbated by work.
  • Sufferers are often criticised, ridiculed and suffer harassment when the subject is broached.
  • The University of Nottingham were commissioned by the BAWP to research the experience of ageing at work for women police officers aged 40+. The full report can be found on the BAWP website.

Best Practice

  • Raise awareness amongst managers about the health implications of ageing in general and the menopause in particular; this should form part of managers training.
  • Increase formal and informal sources of support and information – women’s networks; local contact numbers for advice; formal support and information from Occupational Health Units.
  • Improve aspects of the physical working environment – more comfortable uniforms; women only showers, toilets and restrooms; more supportive car seats; reduction in weight of equipment carried when on foot and regular breaks; suitable desks, chairs and computer screens; improved ventilation/provision of fans.
  • Allow greater flexibility in job roles and working arrangements by making use of the flexible working provisions.
  • Workplace health promotion – regular health checks; fitness programmes and facilities (all ages); easier access to Occupational Health Units.
  • Standalone policy on menopause or integrate this into the attendance management policy.Any such policy should include the following:-
  • Recognition that the menopause can be a problem but is not an illness or disability.
  • A Health and Safety Risk Assessment which includes prevention and control measures in relation to the menopause.Paid time off for medical appointments.
  • Menopause related sickness absence excluded from attendance management formulas i.e. Bradford formula.
  • Training in understanding and dealing with the menopause for managers, safety representatives, Federation and Union representatives.

Useful Websites
www.simplyhormones.com
www.londonwomensclinic.com