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Working Through Menopause a Problem For Many Women

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

The prevalence of older women in the workplace is greater now than it has ever been before, but evidence collected through a survey of women in the United Kingdom has recently suggested that women of menopausal age feel that their workplace performance has been hindered by the changes in their body during this time. That is no surprise. Menopausal symptoms can range from irregular menstruation starting in the perimenopausal stage to hot flashes, agitation, and even joint soreness or pain.

Many women report that they feel they do not perform as well, and that changes in their body due to menopause affects their productivity and the quality of the work that they produce. However, most express an unwillingness to discuss these problems with their employers, in large part due to the fact that – for the most part – their employers are younger men. While this study took place in the UK, it is applicable to the United States as well.

While all aging employees will likely see some decrease in their workplace abilities as they grow older, the predicament of women going through menopause is a sensitive subject—however, it is one that must be touched on in order to find a solution that works for these women and that does not make them feel as if they are “rocking the boat”, so to speak.

The study in question found four areas of concern that needed to be addressed. The first was a greater awareness of menopause and menopausal symptoms among employers. Along with that was a need for a more flexible schedule and a more comfortable workplace. However, one of the more important areas that this study advised should be broadened was the amount of support that menopausal women in the workforce should be able to receive as they go through this transition.

While not every workplace will have these resources available for women, it is a good reminder of how important it is for any woman to have a good source of support on hand as she progresses through this stage of her life.

Whether her support is a sister, a close group of friends, or even anonymous strangers through an Internet forum – one of the greater benefits of living in the virtual age – these resources can not only help a woman approaching menopause know what to expect from the changes in her body, but the experience of others can be a great resource to help women uncover ways in which they can broach the subject of menopause with employers and adapt to the changes in her body. By determining what to expect as her body changes a woman will know what to ask for and the concessions that may need to be made in order to keep her active, healthy, and – most importantly – happy in the workplace.

– Yvonne S. Thornton, M. D., M. P. H.