Picture this: the pinnacle of your career is on the horizon; The moment, the recognition, the title that you have been waiting for since you started your profession is finally within your reach. You have worked tirelessly and it has all led you to the top of your game. This is a moment that you should be able to savor and enjoy; However, there is a problem. Suddenly you can’t remember your debit card number or the last conversation you had with your colleague. In fact, during a previous meeting, you struggled to find the right words for a topic that you know backwards and forwards and could recite with your eyes closed, except this time you didn’t.
To make matters worse, he had a hot flash when talking to the CEO, felt sweltering heat enveloping his face, and was unable to focus on his words. Anxiety has begun to rule her professional interactions, and she finds it receding as her confidence fades at this crucial time. What’s happening to you?
If this sounds familiar, you may be experiencing the menopausal transition in the workplace. Menopause itself is simply the one year anniversary of your last period. However, the period before the final closing of the curtain can be characterized as the “menopausal transition”, when a woman’s hormones begin to fluctuate and decrease as this moment approaches. These hormonal fluctuations can cause side effects that the woman feels throughout her body, either severely or barely noticeable.
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According to the 2022 article On Menopause Misdiagnosis: What Needs to Change? published in the American Journal of Managed Care, there are more than 30 known symptoms associated with menopause, including heavy or missed periods, severe premenstrual pain or bloating, brain fog, forgetfulness, insomnia, anxiety, mood swings, hot flashes (or hot flashes) . ), and many more. These symptoms don’t only appear when a woman is in the privacy of her own home; she may be at a board meeting, presenting critical information, or meeting with potential clients. And, if her symptoms are moderate to severe in her discomfort, this constant and unpredictable fluctuation can throw even the most professional expert off her game.
Menopause is rarely talked about among women or their doctors, let alone employers, and understandably so. Although all women will go through this transition, we are not yet ready to discuss it as a society or acknowledge it with an employer. Perhaps the restriction of communication is due to fear of being stigmatized or relegated to the back benches of work, or it could be a lack of understanding of what goes on inside our bodies. For example, many symptoms of menopause can be misdiagnosed as depression. However, it is not just a personal problem, which women must face behind closed doors; it’s also a business issue, where employers need to prioritize supporting women for one simple reason: professional women are leaving their precious jobs due to menopause.
According to a survey by Menopause Doctor, the world’s largest online menopause library, nine in 10 women reported that menopause symptoms negatively affected their work, and 51% reported having to take sick leave to control your symptoms. Not surprisingly, then, the same study also says that 51% of menopausal women reduced their work hours and 32% quit their jobs altogether. If it’s a small problem, look at it through a macro lens. According to Statistica, the Indian female labor force is steadily increasing every year, predominantly between the ages of 25-54. The average age a woman experiences menopause is about 51 years, with the onset of perimenopause (transition to menopause) occurring as early as seven years earlier, when a woman is in her early 40s.
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Shortly after the average age of menopause, a large exodus of women from the workplace occurs, leaving behind their institutional skills and knowledge. According to the British publication The HR Director, the recruitment, hiring and training of a new employee to cover the institutional knowledge and job description of each woman who leaves her job is around £5,000 (about $5.3 thousand rupees).
To use the technology available on your phone, such as voice notes, the notes app, and alarms and reminders to beat brain fog while you’re at work.
There are countless reasons other than menopause that will cause a woman to cut back or stop working altogether, from family demands of raising children, caring for aging family members, or simply a change in work and life priorities. life. However, the coincidence of women leaving the labor force at the same time as menopause occurs is not a small correlation. The effects of menopause on women and the workplace can be minimized with the right tools and support; we have to dismantle the fear and vulnerability that surround it. It is necessary to start conversations and set new standards so that women can enjoy their careers for as long as they want.
If you’re experiencing menopause or perimenopause symptoms in the workplace and want to take matters into your own hands, here are some ways you can advocate for your health at work and work with your symptoms to benefit yourself at work.
arm yourself with information
Knowledge is power, and once you have a clearer picture of what the menopausal transition will look or feel like, it will help you regain your confidence and control over the situation. Learn what symptoms to expect and meet with your primary care doctor to discuss any concerns you may have. Online resources like Menopause Doctor and Latte Lounge are great for arming yourself with the tools you need to have critical conversations.
talk to your manager
Once you’ve armed yourself with the knowledge, schedule a one-on-one meeting with your direct manager for a candid conversation. Before doing so, describe what you would like to discuss and brainstorm what outcomes you would like from your meeting to help guide the discussion. You may want flexible work hours to be more productive at times that suit you, or you may need to have blocks of preparation time before meetings rather than back-to-back; all these requests are valid. If you feel more comfortable, you can invite your human resources representative to sit in the meeting with you.
Here’s how to deal with:
brain fog: Use technology like sending voice notes to each other after meetings to summarize discussion, write a to-do list in your phone’s notes app, and set reminders or alarms so you don’t forget critical tasks that need to be completed.
Exhaustion or lack of sleep: Establish simple sleep hygiene practices to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. These include limiting blue light emission technology thirty minutes before bedtime, dimming the lights, taking a warm shower and a cool room, and planning to go to bed at least 8-9 hours before waking up.
Hot flushes: Many women experience increased insomnia or increased night sweats as they go through menopause. Reduce the occurrence of hot flashes at work by minimizing triggers such as caffeine and spicy food. If you can’t remove them, consider leaving them on 2-3 hours before any large presentation or meeting that requires your full attention and focus.
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