women's health

Dealing with health concerns at work

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A diverse and inclusive workforce – this should be every employer’s aim.

But one conversation people tend to shy away from? Reproductive health problems. Considering 47% of the UK workforce is female*, women’s health problems such as period pains, contraception and bacterial vaginosis are still viewed as taboo subjects.

And then there’s menopause. Despite being a natural phase in every woman’s life, there’s far too much stigma surrounding it. This means women feel too embarrassed to talk about it, especially at work. Let’s change that.

Why do we need to know about the menopause? ** 

  • There are 3.5 million women over 50 in the workplace in the UK.
  • The average age for a person to go through menopause is 51.
  • Although around one in 100 people will experience the menopause before the age of 40.
  • There are three different stages to the menopause – perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause.
  • Symptoms can last up to 10 years.
  • Symptoms range from cognitive, physical and psychological symptoms (for example, hot flushes, muscular aches, poor concentration, anxiety and headaches).
  • Three out of four people experience symptoms, with one in four suffering severe symptoms, which can impact on their everyday lives.

Menopause in the workplace

Experiencing the menopause can be difficult enough, yet alone if you’re suffering in silence. By openly talking about menopause, you’ll soon realise you’re not alone in feeling out of place.

After all, it’s extremely common for women to:

  • Develop a lack of confidence in their skills and abilities
  • Feel as though they need to hide the reasons for any menopause related absences
  • Experience an increase in mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression
  • Struggle with concentration
  • Consider leaving their job.

By helping to normalise menopause, not only can you continue to thrive in the workplace, you can help others too. Because menopause shouldn’t just be a gender or age issue. You may have colleagues who are being affected by the menopause indirectly, such as spouses, significant others or close family members that are going through the menopause.

Speaking to your employer about menopause

As daunting as it may appear to approach your employer about menopause, our advice is to schedule a 1:1 meeting with your manager or HR manager.

Let them know how you’re feeling, and take information along with you that’ll help them understand more about the menopause. It’s also worth noting down your symptoms, how it’s effecting your work and any outcomes you’re hoping for from the meeting.

Small changes can make a big difference, so it’s worth suggesting creating a Menopause Policy, which supports:

  • Flexible working
  • Counselling through the workplace
  • The option to take more regular breaks
  • More time to prepare before meetings, appointments or engagements.

Support from outside the workplace

If you’re suffering from a women’s health problem and require extra support, Doctor Care Anywhere can help provide the healthcare that you need. Simply activate your account.

Then, with QuickConsult you can select the health condition that’s most relevant to you, complete a short questionnaire, and hit submit. One of our medical professionals will then review your request and provide you with the right prescription or advice. Alternatively, our GPs are available 24/7.

 

* https://www.aon.com/unitedkingdom/employee-benefits/resources/articles/womens-health-how-employers-can-support.jsp

** https://www.nhsemployers.org/articles/menopause-and-workplace

Last reviewed September 2022.

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