(If this post contains affiliate links please see our full disclosure policy although I have to say I tried really hard to make it interesting and even I struggled to write it so if you really must read it you can find it here)
What is the menopause?
According to the NHS menopause occurs when we stop having periods and are no longer able to get pregnant.
It can occur between the ages of 45- 55 when your oestrogen levels start to reduce.
The implications for a reduction in oestrogen can include things like osteoporosis – bone thinning which in turn can make your more prone to bone fractures.
And one of the biggest killers for women Heart Disease once you are post menopausal!
You should be concerned in a BIG way!
Why should we be concerned about it?
Because at some point in our lives we are all going to go through it!
Women that is!
You can get a rough idea when you will have it by asking your mother generally you will go through it at roughly the same age.
Unfortunately or is it? I can’t find out as my mother had an induced menopause at 45 due to cancer treatment so I have no idea when she would have gone through a normal menopause.
She can’t remember when her mother when through hers and my Granny didn’t talk about THOSE things!
So for me its pot luck as to when it will happen!
Story behind the post
I haven’t yet gotten to that stage yet.
BUT I am lucky or unlucky it depends on what your view is to have advanced knowledge of what I will be in for!
When I was around 40 my periods began to get very heavy and it got to the point that it was interfering with my life so much so that I was forced to go to the doctor.
Long and short of that plus lots of crappy Gynae exams was that I had Fibroids!
Yep lucky me like anyone else who has them its not great!
I had the wonderful experience of heavy periods- when I mean heavy I mean HEAVY!
I was scared to go out of the house and work forget it!)
What did I do?
I opted for a myomectomy – the NHS only gives you certain options and that was mine!
So before the procedure I had to have an injection called Zoladex to basically shrink my womb lining to prepare for the procedure. The lovely nasty side effects basically puts you into the menopause as its stopping your production of hormones.
Deep joy – I had the lovely hot flushes mostly at night, tiredness and forgetfulness but lucky me it only lasted for three months till I had the operation.
I was knackered during this time and don’t know how I managed at work but I did.
On the brightside I was no longer bleeding!
The menopause happens to all of us! You can’t bypass it!
Some women suffer worse than others.
To help you understand why it should be recognised in the workplace comes down to some of the symptoms.
To give you the lowdown on what to expect I will talk about the following:
When does it start and what kind of symtoms can you expect?
What can I do to reduce the symptoms?
How can it affect my work?
Ok down to the nitty gritty when will you get it and what are you going to expect in terms of symptoms.
Most women start between 45-55 and it can last a few years or even a decade sorry to put you on a downer but yes it can go on for 10 years!!
- Hot flushes/ hot flashes- day or night
- These are lovely make you feel hot and sweaty like standing in an oven – mine were particulary lovely at night and would be bad enough to wake me up so I could throw off the covers! This seem to happen at least twice at night!
- Apparently these can be triggered by things like spicy foods, alcohol, coffee, wearing poloneck jumpers- well thats a new one on me! Anxiety, stress, actually it sounds like a lot of things!!!
- Vaginal dryness – yep we are all going to get this one.
- Difficulty sleeping well no kidding when you have sweats during the night
- Low mood
- Reduced sex drive
- Problems with memory and concentration
- Irregular bleeding and period pain
How to reduce your symptoms
One of the best things you can do is keep active – exercise will help flashes (US)/flushes (UK) and reduce your weight which in turn will help prevent heart disease and help keep up your bone density!
THIS IS IMPORTANT if you want to reduce your risk of heart disease and Osteoporosis then EXERCISE IS THE KEY!
Topical oestrogen creams will help with vaginal dryness.
Hormone Replacement Therapy aka HRT can help if you can not cope with your symptoms this has been very controversial over the years but new studies suggest that it is safe and should be offered to women if they are struggling with day to day life.
If the hot flushes were particularly bad I may look at this option but because my mother has had two lots of cancer I think I would tough it out to be honest!
Cognitive behavioural therapy and relaxation techniques can also help with flushing and anxiety symptoms.
A whole lot of reasons for your work to be understanding!
Complementary therapies include black cohosh and sage can also help but please be aware that just because some of these remedies are herbal does not mean they are safe and you should always consult your pharmacist to check they don’t interact with any regular medication you are taking.
I am not saying don’t take these things I am just saying make sure you know all the side effects and interactions with your regular medication before making the decision to use these.
I CAN NOT STRESS this enough I have seen my fair number of patients taking supplements that have interacted with their regular medications in a BAD way!!!
Don’t forget as you go through the menopause and your protective oestrogen is depleted you are more at risk for heart disease and osteoporosis so if you have a family history I would suggest a health check at your doctors.
So put it altogether and THE CHANGE is a pain in the butt!
Why should your Employer take Note?
I really do feel in this day and age when your periods are irregular, heavy or painful combined with your mood changes and lack of sleep that when you are in THE CHANGE that your employer should be sympathetic to your needs so that you can stay at work if you still enjoy your job.
After all you are an experienced member of the workforce and have been loyal to your employer.
You should be supported by your employer especially if you need time off not because you are ill but because they are having a particularly hard day maybe you didn’t have a great night and were lucky to grab a few hours sleep!
It would also be great if you weren’t thought off as PAST YOUR BEST at this stage in your life.
I am lucky – at least I hope I am!
Working in health care I would like to think my employer is sympathetic to my up and coming change!
Exercise can help with symptoms of the menopause BUT also reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke and osteoporosis it time to take charge now so that when THE CHANGE happens you are better prepared don’t wait say I will get round to it eventually try it now!
Awareness is the key with employers if they acknowledge it then colleagues can understand things like why you are sweating like a beast and taking off your layers or snapping at colleagues.
Its time to debunk the LAST TABOO!
Menopause happens and can be debilitating lets talk about it recognise it at work so people understand its not you its your hormones!
Have you got any stories about menopause and work?