Those going through the menopause at work should be catered for in a similar way to pregnant women, according to a leading health expert.
There are many policies in place to support pregnant women in the workplace but a study found that there isn’t much awareness of the affect the menopause can have on women in work.
The trend to discuss menopause has been partly driven by celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Saunders and Kim Cattrall have decided that ‘it isn’t something to be embarrassed about’.
Kim Cattrall said that her hot flushes were like being dropped in boiling water while Angelina Jolie said it was ‘part of life and nothing to be feared’ after she went through early menopause after having her ovaries removed.
Kim Cattrall (left) and Angelina Jolie (right) have both previously spoken out about the menopause and how it affects women
Comedian Jennifer Saunders openly discussed her menopause in a documentry last year.
Myra Hunter, a retired professor of clinical health psychology at King’s College London said that the ‘taboo issue’ of the menopause in the workplace is affecting women going through the change.
She added that managers would like to address the issue but they don’t know how to begin the conversation.
Comedian Jennifer Saunders (pictured) openly discussed her menopause in a documentry last year
Ms Hunter said: ‘Women want it to be raised if appropriate. They don’t want to be treated as ill, they just want some understanding and awareness of it.’
A study conducted by Ms Hunter and her colleagues followed 124 female employees in the public and private sectors found that menopause symptoms, such a hot flushes, were having a significant impact.
However according to the research team following a self-help booklet that included information about cognitive behavioural therapy largely reduced how much the women felt the symptoms were impacting them.
The averge age that menopause occurs is 51-years-old and the way it affects different women can vary.
Some women report tiredness, confusion, mood swings and a loss of confidence which can last between a few years and a decade.
About 80% of women experience some hot flushes and night sweats and for 20 to 30% these symptoms are severe enough to have a significant impact on quality of life
Although there is no solid evidence to suggsest that these symptoms are affecting professional performance or causing women to leave work in large numbers.
The women enlisted in the survey had on average 56 hot flushes a week and half of them were provided with a self-help booklet which gave guidance on how to cope with stress.
It also offered assistance on how to discuss the menopause at work and how to challenge negative stereotypes surrounding it such as ‘being past it’.
Myra Hunter (pictured) conducted a research study that followed 124 women who were going through the menopause to see if a self-help book could reduce their symptoms
The half of the women who were given the booklet were set women cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) exercises which instructed them to write down the thoughts they have during hot flushes and then challenge them.
Ms Hunter said: ‘If a woman has a hot flush half the anxiety is about how people see her’, reports The Guardian
‘There’s embarrassment and anxiety about being joked about and a big concept is hiding symptoms in fear of being ridiculed.’
Those women that were given the booklet reported a reduction in their symptoms and said that when they did occur they weren’t as problematic.
A follow up after five months found that the number of hot flushes they experienced were reduced by a third.
In an interview after the trial 82 per cent said the intervention had reduced the impact of their symptoms and 37 per cent had spoken about their menopause to their line manager.
Tina Weaver, CE0 of the charity Wellingbeing of Women, which funded the research, said: ‘It’s alarming so many women suffer from these debilitating symptoms and feel so unsupported during the menopause that they drop out of the work force.
‘This natural process has been overlooked and considered a taboo for too long.’
Some women report tiredness, confusion, mood swings and a loss of confidence which can last between a few years and a decade could affect their performance at work (stock photo)