• Lauren Chiren

Menopause in the workplace: How Becky, 49, regained control at work

Updated: Oct 16

Becky, a chief nursing officer, had been on the verge of quitting her high-

achieving job in the NHS when Women of a Certain Stage stepped in to show

her the steps to regaining confidence, control and equilibrium.

There is a great deal that can be learned from this one case study and in

revealing the problems and the solutions, it is likely that we will be able to help

other women in similar situations.

A long list of symptoms

For Becky, 49, there was a wide range of symptoms that impacted how she

felt in the workplace. Looking back, she believed she had been struggling for

around four years through the peri-menopause phase.

Symptoms included sleeplessness and fatigue. Becky said: “It was hard to get

through a full day at work because of tiredness and that made me extra

cautious about making decisions. I also felt like it took me longer to do

everything.”

She noticed that she was easily losing concentration, where previously she

had felt confident and “on the ball”. Becky said: “Meetings, conversations and

commitments became difficult. I found it hard to engage and to recall and

therefore follow through on things.

“I was embarrassed to speak up in meetings and I struggled to follow policy

debates. It was difficult to keep track of which meeting I’d need to be in and

when and what I was meant to achieve from it. I felt so out of control.”

As a result, Becky’s mood became low and she felt anxious. She says: “I

started to feel like I was losing my engagement with other people, both at

work and socially.

“It was a horrible feeling and I spiralled further down, worrying that ‘this was

it' & at 39 that life as I knew it was over."

“It got worse as I became more isolated and I didn’t want to go to work or

socialise.”

Becky noticed physical problems associated with the menopause, too,

including hot sweats. These caused her embarrassment, especially while at

work, and she was concerned that colleagues were wondering what was

wrong with her.

She added: “I just felt so uncomfortable in my own skin and I continually

wished I could take a shower and change my clothes but this simply wasn’t

possible during a busy work day.”

Joint pain also made Becky feel old and tired. She said: “Everything I did just

felt so hard. I worried about ageing and whether it was the start of life-long

arthritis.”

The first steps to regaining confidence and control

By chance, Becky heard me talk on stage at a conference about menopause

at work and this led her to contacting Women at a Certain Stage.

At first, I had a 45-minute phone consultation with Becky, where I identified

the health challenges, lifestyle choices and blocks that she was facing.

She told me about being a senior female in her workplace and how she

reported into the CEO of the leading hospital she worked for. I could see how

important her job was t her and the high level she had achieved in her career.

She was also studying for a Masters degree and this had been very important

to her before she started to suffer peri-menopause symptoms.

It was very concerning that Becky felt she could no longer do her job

competently and ha she was thinking about giving it all up.

After the consultation, I arranged weekly calls and we became more focused

on what Becky wanted to achieve. The aim was to work together to enable

her to feel in control, calm and competent again at work.

By being goal orientated on a timeline, we dissected the areas that Becky

could work on in bite-sized chunks.

I supported her with critical questioning to state the goals that she wanted to

achieve during the initial 12 months of working together and divided these into

quarterly steps.

Menopause in the workplace: Support and strategy

Through in-depth conversations and focused coaching, I was able to show

Becky the way to get her career back on track.

Suggestions included:

Out with the clutter: Becky was encouraged to clear the clutter in her

schedule, inbox, social media and physical space to allow some new

behaviours to develop

New sleep patterns: I showed Becky how to work on creating new habits to

developed a better night-time routine with the aim of a good night’s sleep

We made tiny changes to Becky’s eating behaviours in the evening to

progress towards a more successful nights sleep and to stop the pattern of

falling asleep and waking up three to four hours later.

Diet and hydration: Good diet and proper hydration is vital for physical well-

being, especially through the menopause years. I showed Becky how to make

subtle changes to what she was eating and drinking, with a focus on better

hydration and reducing sugar, alcohol and spicy foods.

These small changes resulted in significantly reduced day-time and night

sweats

Once Becky started sleeping through the night and suffered fewer sweats, her

low mood started to lift and her anxiety reduced.

I took her through visualisation activities and exercises to maintain a sense of

calm. We did this while working together and when she was on her own and

at work.

Learning from Becky’s story

The estimated number of women currently peri-menopausal or menopausal in

the UK is 13 million, which is a third of the entire female population.

In the core age groups of 45 to 55 and 50 to 64, figures show that 80% and

71% respectively are employed in full-time or part-time roles.

Yet, there are still some stark statistics that reveal that not enough is

understood – or being offered by businesses and employers.

A recent report revealed that almost a third of working women aged 50 to 64

are reluctantly taking time out of the working week to alleviate menopausal

symptoms. Across the year, this is estimated to be up to a total productivity

loss among the UK female workforce of 14 million working days.

What’s more, research also found that 370,000 working women in the UK

aged between 50 and 64 admitted they have left, or considered leaving their

career, because dealing with menopause symptoms in the workplace is too

difficult. 

There are at least 34 symptoms of peri-menopause and menopause. Many of

these can have devastating effects on women in the workplace.

There is a growing recognition of the need to support women in the

menopause transition and the more that women, male colleagues and

employers know and can do to help the better.

Here are a number of tips and ideas that can be utilised to manage your own

symptoms at work and which will also be useful in any discussion that you

have with colleagues, line managers and employers.

  • Better ventilation

  • More natural light

  • Identifying a quiet, cool space to regain composure and calm

  • Creating an area to store a change of clothes (so that women can feel

  • more able to cope with hot sweats, incontinence, heavy bleeds etc)

  • Creating a place to freshen up or shower and change

  • Offering flexible working patterns

  • Organising workplace menopause awareness sessions and line

  • manager training

  • Highlighting useful podcasts webinars and signposting to useful

  • information

  • Organising menopause socials

  • Becoming menopause champions

If you would like more help, advice or support for yourself, or to make your

workplace a better place for women going through the menopause, you can

contact Women of a Certain Stage on lauren@womenofacertainstage.com or 07799 402294

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