Managing Menopause at Work

95% of women over the age of 55 are in menopause.  The average American woman works until the age of 66.  That means that a huge section of the workforce could be affected and struggling with the symptoms of menopause.  

Although there are currently no fixed laws within the US that directly relate to menopause, but women do have protection in terms of age discrimination and gender bias.  Human Resource departments are often very willing to help with simple accommodations that can make things better.    

How can menopause affect work performance? 

Menopause is more than cessation of menstruation.  Although effects vary, most women experience some symptoms which last on average up to four years. The most common symptoms that could interfere with a woman’s working life include difficulty sleeping, fatigue and joint/muscle pain.  Menopausal women may find that their concentration and mood are affected too. Anxiety, memory problems and irritability can wax and wane.  

These can impact focus, alertness, the ability to perform manual tasks and the ability to manage stressful moments with colleagues or customers. 

75% of menopausal women experience hot flashes.  The experience is like an intense feeling of heat spreading throughout the body; it can lead to sweating and skin redness. Working in a warm or stuffy office may exacerbate these symptoms. 

Other conditions linked to the menopause include heart palpitations, urinary tract infections and even increased risk from other, more serious conditions such as osteoporosis and heart disease. For many women, menopause just isn’t pleasant and can make work more of a challenge. 

If you’re experiencing symptoms, what can you do? 

While it may feel strange talking to your employer about your issues, most are understanding.  Don’t be afraid to talk with your employer or the Human Resources department and make requests based on what you feel able to manage.  

For your part, maintaining a healthy lifestyle outside of work can help.  Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet full of vitamins and minerals may help alleviate symptoms of fatigue; protein sources from grass fed meat, wild fatty fish, pasture raised poultry and eggs, healthy fats, lots of green veggies and minimizing carbohydrates can stabilize blood sugar and help improve energy. 

Exercise and meditation can improve mood and help ease stress and anxiety.  There are numerous meditation apps like "Calm" that make it possible for some quick stress relief that you can do during a work break. Even five minutes of slow deep belly breathing will activate the parasympathetic nervous system and put you in the rest and digest mode. Where there is a will there is a way, even in the workplace.

Women and Stress

It’s true that anyone can experience stress, but women are at a higher risk for having more of it.  Stress can come from many sources such as work, school, home life, parenting, health, finances, and so much more. Women are most likely to multi-task and be the bedrock of their family. I count myself in on being a multi-tasker. It’s nothing new for me to be running two loads of laundry while roasting a chicken in the oven. I used to do three things at once and now I’ve cut back to doing two things so that’s progress for me. It's been my observation that women in general have more responsibilities than their partners when it comes to family life, so it's not wonder we need a good self care routine. Many years ago, before I was married with a family of my own, I had a client with a demanding career, a husband and baby who used to say that she could use a wife. Not for any other reason other than to delegate someone else to take care of all the mundane chores and free up more time. I couldn't relate then when I was single, but I understand now!

You may think you know what it feels like to be stressed out, but many women only notice they are out of alignment when it starts to truly affect other areas of their life.  Stress comes in many forms, and you may be experiencing it nearly every day without even realizing. By understanding the signs, you have a better chance at catching it early on and taking health supportive actions.  

Several signs you may be under stress: 

Complications and Side Effects 

There are quite a few ways stress can affect you, both mentally and physically. This doesn’t even begin to cover the fact that stress can lead to problems at home, including finances, work, and with your family or friends. Aside from those complications, it also affects you emotionally and mentally. You might have heightened anxiety, more frequent panic attacks, and severe depression. Stress also increases the risk for many physical ailments, including headaches and migraines, muscle tension, digestive issues, high blood pressure, stroke, infections, backache, eating disorders, skin problems, bowel disorders, and many others.  

What to do About it 

As you can see, stress can do a number on your entire life. As soon as possible, look for healthy and productive ways to give yourself relief in the form of self-care. What will work for you might vary based on the source of stress.  One day it could be writing in a journal, and the next taking a yoga class or going for a run. Choose healthy activities that take your mind off of your concerns, even if it’s just having tea with friends or watching a raunchy comedy with your family. Hearty laughter is one of life’s best forms of medicine. Make it a point to do it more often 😊